ALIVE: CHAPTER 86, Blood, Wives and Kingdom Come

After the death of Goliath, David was transformed by King Saul from a shepherd leading a quiet solitary life into a warrior at first under Saul and then as a renegade leader of his own army. David killed thousands of men in battles against aggressive tribes, a few in defense of the sacred, and one man for his own lust. For that one he was punished in many ways. But he repented of the murder and composed the glorious 51st psalm which has healed the souls of millions since then. 

That a warrior could have the same yielding heart toward God as a shepherd was remarkable. The blazing sun, lack of water, and vicious animals were simply replaced by equally threatening marauding armies with spears and knives. To trust God was as essential for the warrior as for the shepherd. Yet one killed while the other protected.

That a killer and an adulterer could be as faithful and close to God almighty as David gives all of humanity hope and a model to live by. His relationship with God is what made David a great man and the forefather of God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. 

Every morning David and his band of righteous killers awoke to a day that would be the last for many of them, and for their enemies. Life and death, victory and defeat looked each other squarely in the eye of the soul. To the victor belonged the spoils. What a village full of men and women had painstakingly made and accumulated: wine, tools, furniture, clothing, were all snatched by the victor as ready prize and payment. 

One bleak day when he was away wreaking havoc on others, David’s village of Ziklag was burned to the ground and the people were carried off. They were not killed but stolen as living prize by the dastardly Amelikites. When David and his men found their homes destroyed and families missing they all raised their voices and wept until not a tear was left to squeeze from their miserable hearts. David fled to the Lord, as he had as a child to his mother for comfort and wisdom. 

This time the priest, Ahimelech, helped him discern the council from the Lord that they needed. With the help of the ephod, they inquired whether he should pursue the villains or humbly accept the loss. Through the ephod God answered David loud and clear that he should pursue. And so they recovered their families just as God said. 

Jonathan, David’s brother of the heart and rightful heir to the throne, and two other sons of Saul were killed by the Phillistines on Mount Gilboa. In the same battle archers badly wounded the king. As Saul lay in agony, he begged his armor-bearer to finish him off so that the uncircumcised would not kill him and then make sport of his empty flesh. But his armor-bearer was unwilling to kill the king. 

Another man escaped the battle to take the news to David that Saul was dead. David said, “How do you know that Saul and Jonathan are dead?” He replied that his own eyes beheld Saul writhing in pain, and upon seeing him begged him to finish him off after his armor-bearer refused. This young man reported to David that indeed, he killed Saul as the king commanded. He then took the crown from his limp head and the king’s armulet and he brought them to David as proof. 

David tore his clothes and wept and fasted until evening grieving for Saul and for Jonathan. After sunset, when the grief lifted enough for David to speak to the young man again, he asked him who he was. The young man replied that he was an Amelikite, the son of a resident alien in Israel. David said to him, “Weren’t you afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” Then David ordered the young man to be killed. The young man sought a reward and found death because he callously disregarded the anointing of God. He saw a dead body and a crown where David saw God’s chosen king.  

What the armor-bearer rightly refused to do, the Amelikite eagerly accomplished. Had Saul obeyed God when he was instructed to kill ALL the Amelikites, he would not have lost his kingship to David, nor his life by the hand of an Amelikite. 

What Saul saw as negligible, God required as attention to detail. Beware all ye aspiring immortals of small apparently insignificant commands.

The anointing of young David by the prophet Samuel to be king of Israel became manifested decades later. God is never in a hurry. He is a perfectionist. People who give up believing in God when their prayers are not answered even after several years of fervent prayer are to be pitied. Never give up, never ever give up. 

After David received the crown from the killer of Saul, he was told how the king was buried and blessed those men, and he was also told that the respectful armor-bearer, upon seeing his king killed, fell on his own sword. David smiled.

David was thirty years old when he was anointed by the leaders of Judah as their king. 

Saul still had a living son, Ishbaal, and a commander of his army, Abner who for over seven years conducted a civil war in Israel against the tribe of Judah. David of Judah won most battles. 

When not winning battles David was getting married and producing sons. First there were two wives, and then another six, not to mention concubines. 

Seven years into this phase of David’s life as king of Judah, and victorious militant, an important turn of events occurred in the enemy camp. Saul’s son and king of Israel accused Joab, the commander of his army of going into Saul’s concubine. Joab was highly insulted by the accusation to the point of defecting and joining David. 

David welcomed Joab, but also sent a messenger to King Ishbaal demanding Michal, Saul’s daughter, who had been promised to him years before. Ishbaal had to tear this woman away from her loving husband who followed her moaning and crying. Michal became David’s arch critic. 

Meanwhile Abner shrewdly lobbied the heads of the various tribes of Israel to join him on David’s side, which made David very happy and he sent Abner away in peace. The drama escalated because Joab, a commander of David’s armies, was very skeptical of Abner’s new allegiance to David and had him killed. 

David was furious and shamefully grieved over Abner. He cursed Joab and his family for the murder of Abner. David also refused to eat all day. Seeing David’s reaction convinced Israel that David was not personally responsible for the death of Abner. 

Soon after, Ishbaal, the king of Israel, was assassinated in his bed.  The assassins took his Ishbaal’s head  to David. Again, David was furious that anyone would harm the Lord’s anointed king of Israel. The assassins suffered the same death as had the callous Amelikite.

At this point, seven and a half years after David was crowned king of Judah, the elders of the tribes of Israel, at Hebron, proclaimed David as their king too and once again all of Israel was united under one king. 

God said, “It is you who should shepherd My people Israel” so once again David was a shepherd. 

One of King David’s first moves was to march to Jerusalem, a stronghold of Zion, and there he struck down the native population of Jebusites and continued to become greater and greater.

King Hiram of Tyre sent David cedar trees and carpenters and they built him a house. Now David the shepherd boy, youngest son of Jesse was a proper king with his very own house and his many many wives and sons. 

God honored David as Lord of Israel, who honored Him as Lord of all. 

ALIVE: Chapter 85 The King’s Nemesis

The next chapter in David’s life, after he was captured by Saul and sentenced to the palace, after he saved Israel from slavery by killing a giant with a slingshot, and long after he was anointed by Prophet Samuel to succeed Saul as king, he was put through the mill. The mill turns wheat berries into flour to make nourishing bread, the staff of life. The spirit-mill turns crisis into wisdom. 

This anointed young shepherd, the youngest and shortest son of  Jesse, of the poor little village Bethlehem, who asked for nothing but his lyre and his sheep learned quickly that being chosen by God can  easily be confused with being cursed. Bad things happen to good people to make them better people. 

This is why Jesus tells us to love our enemies. Our enemies purify us if we let them. Only a child of God, born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13) can love someone who is mean to him, who steals from him, or insults, or tries to kill him.

Asceticism, i.e. fasting and vigils, and other difficult self-imposed exercises allow us to discipline ourselves, in a desire to be purified of self-indulgence. Self-suppression opens the soul to God’s will. Practicing asceticism says, “I love you so much that I am happy to deny myself, my will for comfort, even health to yield myself to You my Lord.” Happy are the ascetics, martyrs and other saints, who are blessed by danger; their asceticism allowed them to face what others would see as evil with an eye focused on God, the all knowing, all loving Father.Humility. Peace.

Ask young Mary as she appeared to be a lose woman to her betrothed, when in truth she was an innocent virgin, or as she bobbed up and down rocky roads on a donkey in her ninth month of pregnancy, only to find no room at the inn, to give birth in a smelly barn. A manger may sound like a quaint word, but it isn’t quaint. Or the agony of witnessing her son dying on the shameful cross. An ordinary person would wonder how a loving God could allow her to endure the heart-wrenching hours of a slow public murder of her beloved holy boy, her only child.

Go back; ask Joseph in the ditch where his jealous brothers threw him to die, or in prison where his master’s wife sent him when he refused to lay with her. Ask him about the value of tragic circumstances endured with calming faith.

It wasn’t what happened to these people that meant anything at all, it was how they reacted to what happened to them. They were not being punished, they were being formed by God. Misery seared through layers of filth to expose the golden core.

Sweet son of Jesse’s wife, had to be sure that the King of Israel really and truly hated him and want to kill him. He couldn’t believe it, so over and over again he tested the waters. Over and over again Saul proved to be his enemy.

One day David was given an opportunity to show that he had no intention of hurting Saul. 

Saul walked into a dark cave to relieve himself.  David who had been hiding in there was surprised to see the king enter. David never considered harming the Lord’s anointed. Instead, he raised his knife and stealthily cut a corner of Saul’s cloak while he was grunting to empty his bowels. David was that close to the man who was hunting him. The doe nibbled the hem of the hunter and withdrew. Saul never noticed. David could easily have seized the moment to shock and kill his enemy. In fact he had to keep his small army from harming Saul.

After David stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak he was stricken to the heart. David even felt badly that he cut Saul’s cloak. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed to raise my hand against him. So David scolded his men severely and did not permit them to attack Saul. 

After Saul got up and left the cave, David also rose up and went out of the cave and called after Saul, “My Lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance. David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of those who say, ‘David seeks to do you harm? This very day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you into my hand in the cave; and someone urged me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not raise my hand against my lord; for he is the Lord’s anointed. See, my father, see the corner of your cloak in my hand; for by the fact that I cut off your cloak, and did not kill you, you may know for certain that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you are hunting me to take my life. May the Lord judge between me and you! May the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against my lord; for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 

Saul stood dumbfounded. The contrast between himself and this boy startled him. He mumbled words of astonishment while weeping. But all David heard clearly was when Saul said, “Now I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. Swear to me therefore by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and you will not wipe out my name from my father’s house.”

So David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home; but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

David wasn’t trying to supplant Saul as king. God was. God didn’t  try, He just did it, slowly and methodically. Saul couldn’t escape God’s judgment on him, and neither could David escape God’s plan for him. 

The hatred from Saul, the threats on his life, in fact all the scenes of hide-and-seek David went through were simply a layer of frenetic activity over a smooth path to David’s forty year reign as King of Judah and all of Israel. It was background noise, car horns, airplanes, people shouting, sirens blaring during the symphony.

Saul could never have what he was grasping for because fear and greed and pride were the slow destruction of his own desires. Suicide. He couldn’t escape his own ugly soul. Saul became one of the walking dead. 

To be truly Alive is to focus on the symphony, to use one’s inherent power as made in the image and likeness of God to demand of all the lower powers that make the world the chaotic place it is, that God’s Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It is the path that leads, like the seed of Jack’s beanstalk, from deep within the rich soil of planet Earth furlongs up to the land of immortality.

ALIVE: Chapter 84, The Goliath Effect

While his brothers ran to pursue the Philistines along with the rest of Israel, David quietly picked up the dripping head of Goliath and found a remote place to rest and collect himself.

He imagined going home. In his daydream David reached the house where his mother sat alone, fretting and praying. She looked up and seeing her son, she smiled a smile of gratefulness and relief. 

“Did you give your brothers the food? Was the fighting heavy? How many of our men were killed? Did you see all of your brothers?” In his fantasy David waited patiently for the questions to end, and replied to his mother, “Israel is well. Your sons will return. I am going to my sheep.” 

In his exhaustion David’s daydreaming plummeted him into a state of deep sleep. In that dark ethereal space angels came to minister to him. Like a mist of rose water on his hot dry face, like a hug from a beloved, like standing by the fire on a cold dark night, David received the comfort his tender heart needed. 

He saw in his dream a gigantic balloon filled with the air of pride and glory. An arrow flew in front of his eyes and pierced it! Instantly the balloon deflated. He looked down his arm at a handful of ashes clenched in his fist.

He looked up again to see a white cloud wafting two meters from  face. Deep within it pink sparkles of light pulsated like a beating heart. The moving cloud spread the fragrance of lilacs. 

The cloud spoke without words to David. Yet he was able to  translate the message into words he could understand. Without hearing, he knew exactly what the sparkling cloud was saying, “Goliath fell quickly didn’t he?”

David nodded clenching the ashes in his hand. He remembered how no force at all was needed. David did nothing. All he did was shoot his slingshot. How could a pebble pierce that rock-hard giant head? 

Then it occurred to David that God was the one Who killed Goliath. All David had in his quiver was his faith, and God’s will. In truth, God was not about to allow His people Israel to fall into slavery again. The sparkles grew brighter and brighter as if being nourished by Truth, so bright that David awoke with a sunbeam shining directly on his face.

He looked up at a looming figure of an army commander standing over him. “Wake up young man, the king wants to speak with you.” 

David picked up the head of Goliath by the long matted hair, then finagled himself and the head into a standing position and followed the man, Abner, to Saul. 

David stood straight and tall before King Saul with head in hand and waited for the king to speak. 

“Whose son are you young man?” 

David answered briefly and specifically, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.” respectfully without adding, “Surely you know me, I played the lyre for you. You know my father. How can you not recognize me? I had to leave my sheep for you!” David resented being taken from his rest. He wanted, he needed the time to contemplate his dream. The moment was grabbed away from him, and replaced by this awkward exchange with the king who had forgotten the hours they spent together while he played his lyre as music therapy. Had the demons won after all?

Behind Saul on his throne David noticed a young man with the same shaped jaw, and light brown hair, and strong straight nose. He looked to be about the same age and build as himself. He assumed it was the king’s son who he heard about but never met. The young man was looking back at him intently. David could not read the expression on his face. But it looked as if the young man was studying him.

Jonathan had never seen the lyre player, so he only associated David with the demise of Goliath. Jonathan thought that there was something about David, perhaps the clear tone of his voice, or was it his handsome ruddy face, but in a flash the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 

King Saul never mentioned the reward for slaying Goliath. Although David thought that was the reason he was summoned, he didn’t dare inquire. David knew his place. He considered himself to be no more than a poor man, the youngest son of Jesse from the poor village of Bethlehem. The family from Ephraim was of the smallest tribe. Not even a tribe, but one of two sons of Joseph. 

Nor did David even seek the reward. That wasn’t why he slew Goliath. His reward was to defend the reputation of God. How dare that Philistine presume to enslave Israel because of his height and muscle? David could not allow that. God was honored and pleased by David’s effort to represent the God of Israel, and that was reward enough. 

But punishment?! David did not expect to be punished for slaying the giant. It was painful to hear the king say, “You will not return to your father’s house. You will live here.” And to his servants Saul shouted, “Find the boy a bed!” Then the king turned toward his son, “Jonathan, go with them.”

Jonathan was glad for the opportunity to be with David away from his father. He followed behind the servant and David, thinking of a way to endear himself to this special young man. 

When they arrived at the quarters that were to be David’s new home, not even near his old room, Jonathan said to the servant, “You may go. I will orient the young man myself.”

David dropped the giant head and sat on the bed. More than anything he wanted to go back to sleep, to his dream. To the place where he was before being dragged to the palace. Wasn’t the reward for killing the giant to be free? Instead he was to be a prisoner of the palace. 

David watched the king’s son stripping himself of his armor, which because of the heat was understandable, but then he continued to undress by taking off his robe which perplexed David.  Jonathan said, “These are yours now. Here, take my sword, and my bow and my belt too. You are more worthy than I, and more able than I to be the next king.”

“I don’t know what to say.” replied David. “I am a shepherd. I play the lyre. The Lord strengthened me to make a good shot with my slingshot.

Jonathan replied , “I think the Lord who brought you this far, and put Goliath into your hands to save Israel will continue to use you. I will step aside to make a way for the Lord’s chosen.”

Memories came to him of the oil of Samuel dripping down his head and face, and the explosion it made deep within his chest. Again, he did nothing to earn that moment, nothing that he could think of. He was merely his mother’s son who was taught to worship their mighty God. The God who made the earth and who destroyed it except for Noah and his family. The God who led his people out of Egypt after slaying all the first born, even Pharaoh’s son. How often David thought of Passover night and what it must have felt like to flee a home and the bonds of slavery and walk through the Red Sea into the unknown.

Jonathan broke in by saying, “I will leave you now, as I see you are tired. Your servant will fetch you for supper.” 

“Thank you Jonathan, my brother.” David stood up and the young men hugged before Jonathan departed feeling content with himself. 

Finally alone with his thoughts, David laid down on the bed and waited for sleep to come. 

Instead, words percolated up from his heart to his mind. In that dark cool lifeless room, which was actually the entrance to a new chapter in his life David said to himself: 

“The Lord is my shepherd.” And by saying this, he began to accept his new reality.  For years he had driven his sheep hither and yon. Never did they complain or whine. Nor would he. He would go to wherever the Lord drives him, even if he had to leave his pasture and become a warrior. 

“I shall not want.” For he knew that only with obedience and gratitude could he please his Maker and God. 

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures.” Suddenly David felt the soft grass under him, as if the bed was transformed into a pasture, and in that moment he realized that he could be there in the pasture, in his soul whenever he needed to. It was his physical presence that was the illusion. 

“He restores my soul.” For God will renew his soul and heal him from every distress that the world brings, if only he would yield his will to his God. 

“He guides me in the path of righteousness for His Name’s sake.” Righteousness. Yes! holy righteousness was the key to the world of peace and confidence. No fear. He must keep the law before him always, for the law is life. 

“Yay, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” David had a premonition that the days ahead would be consumed with death. He saw the darkness of war fill his waking hours as a blood red moon fills the evening sky. Killing was to be his calling. The thought frightened the young shepherd, until he told himself that God was his Shepherd and that he needed to go where he was driven. How then could fear accompany his way? What betrayal of his relationship to his Shepherd would that be?

“Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” How often had David needed to smack a lamb to save it from danger with a painful blow? David knew where to find water and where there was a ravine or a precipice. The lambs yielded to David’s will, by rod if need be. From shepherding David learned, like a sculptor learns his skill after years of poor attempts, to push away the anger and fear that strong and stupid willfulness yield to.   

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” What joy! My enemies are great. They seek my demise. They torment me with meanness, wishing only my harm, my misery. In the face of the storm of hatred I am weak. But God is strong. He is my Shield and my Provider. Those who want me crippled or dead, are watching as the Lord of Heaven and earth blesses me. They writhe foaming at the mouth behind a glass barrier. Unable to harm, but instead they must watch me dine on delicacies. I am content. I am grateful. I am safe. 

“Thou annointest my head with oil.” Holy olive. The first to rise from the Flood, to bring good news of survival and renewal to emaciated Noah. Like light to darkness. Holy olive squeezed. Its essence separated from its flesh, illuminates; olive oil feeds the flame that extinguishes darkness. This sacred means of light was first poured on the stone where Jacob lay his sleeping head and there met the Lord God in his dream, and generations later was poured on the head of Aaron to become the first priest. Sacred anointing. Transference. 

“My cup runneth over.” Abundance of light and blessings, more than my heart can contain.

“Surely only goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Safety, security, relief from suffering and fear. Joy, bliss, abundance. Every day.

“And I will dwell in the House of the Lord, forever.”  A prisoner of the palace, David sat on his bed that day imagining the Lord’s house and eternity. David realized at the moment of saying this inspired line for the first time, that his soul was immortal, that his essence would never dwell in the darkness of sleep but live and see, and dwell in a house much grander and more peaceful than this palace. 

Tears trickled down David’s young cheeks, and he thought about his mother’s moist cheeks, and he prayed for her peace of heart. How would she learn that he was safe, and alive?

Chapter 83 The David-Seed Buds

Never was a shepherd more content with his life than when young David returned to the pasturelands and to his innocents.

In those days he strummed his lyre for himself and for the Lord. Barely aware of the hot sun beating down on him, David entered a cooling world of tones deep as a canyon and sharp as broken crystal. The harmonies that he was creating joined fingered-strings to his ears and to his invisible heart, the triumvirate communicating purely with its Creator. There was no dissonance there, no haughtiness, no rancor, not even pride in his talent.

The moment when he spotted a stray sheep David spun out of that ethereal  place and gently set down the lyre to guide the lamb back to the fold. From the contrast of sudden silence David understood how and why the sounds of the lyre were medicine for the king.   

How Satan must flee from pure beauty and harmony.  How offensive it must be for the tormentor to be rendered impotent. 

Quickly David re-focused on his duty to his sheep. His own thirst reminded him to drive the flock to a pond, and for himself to find a shade tree. He knew just the spot and skillfully drove his party to relief from the hot sun.

The young keeper of the sheep was oblivious to the battles taking place furlongs past the sounds of them for the Lord being David’s shepherd fed him in still pastures. Here David was maturing from within as the grape evolves into a tawny port slowly and imperceptibly except to the angels.

When the blistering sun descended gently behind the mountains David gathered his satchel and lyre, picked up his staff, and called to his lambs that it was time to go home.

Oh how he loved Bethlehem. Would that he never had to leave it. Yet, the arrangement his father made with the king was that he could go back and forth from palace to pasture to tend their sheep. The next day, was to be a day of return to Saul.

After David had placed his sheep safely in their corral he rushed inside for supper. His mother appeared distressed as she was stirring the stew that she had spent her day preparing. Her hands trembled and her head bowed low in silent prayer.

“What is it mother? Where is father and my brothers? Have I returned too soon?” David respectfully did not question the trembling hands or trickling tears that moistened her cheeks.

“No my love, your father will be present shortly, but I cannot say if or when your brothers will return. The Philistine are on the rampage. Morning and evening since you left they come to take their stand. They would have us destroyed or become their slaves. Your brothers are on the field of battle now. I am troubled lest I loose one of my precious sons to Sheol.

Cheerfully David responded, “This means I don’t have to go to the palace tomorrow!”

David hugged his mother tightly and with increased solemnity added, “Mother, trust in God and do not fret. Shall we pray together as we did when I was a boy? How often you soothed me as I listened to you speaking with Yahweh as you would speak to your father.” David did not realize that  comparing Yahweh to a father had never been uttered, or even thought of before that moment. It was a concept born of the Spirit deep within David’s innocent core. Even his grieving mother did not notice. 

At that moment Jesse entered the room and the conversation quickly turned to the more pragmatic condition of the sheep and if they had had enough food and water. Father and son gravitated to the table for supper where mother was setting down bowls of her aromatic lamb stew. Together the family gave thanks and then dined in silence, solemnly awaiting the brothers return.

While chewing bread Jesse said, “If Eliab and your other brothers do not return by daybreak, I want you to take for them an ephah of parched grain and ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers; also take those ten cheeses over there to the commander of their thousand. See how your brothers fare, and bring some token from them.” Jesse said that to soothe his wife as well as to feed his sons.

“But where will I find them?” asked David.

“I will go into the village and inquire.”

“Yes father.”

That evening Jesse learned that Saul and all the men of Israel, were encamped in the valley of Elah.

David rose at first light, gathered the provisions into his satchel, and went as his father had commanded him. As he drew near Elah he first heard, then followed the shouts of the war cry to find the army going forth to the battle line between Elah and Ephes-dammin where the Philistines camped. The opposing armies thrust themselves at each other in the valley between two mountains.

Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. David left his satchel in charge of the keeper of the baggage, ran to the ranks, and went to find and greet his brothers.

Just as he spotted a brother and was approaching him, David looked up to see a giant of a man who had emerged into the front from the camp of the Philistines. Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at this monster in awe.

His height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat looked to be five thousand shekels of bronze. He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head looked to weigh six hundred shekels of iron.

Jaws of the Jews dropped at the site of this giant.

At the front, the giant stood like a greater than life-size statue. Sound of voices, even of heavy breathing suddenly stopped. The giant’s voice moved into the opening his form made for him and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “I am Goliath! Why have you come out to draw for battle? Am I not a Philistine and are you not servants of Saul?” The sound of his bellows wafted loud and clear for yards around so that every Jew and every Philistine knew exactly what he said. This giant and enemy was about to disarm them with the threat of his words before he crushed them like ants. 

“Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me,” he bellowed like thunder. Then the lightening of his words struck, “If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him, then you shall be our servants and serve us. Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.”  The eyes of the giant scanned the ranks of Israel’s piercing wide eyes under furrowed brows and stabbed repeatedly at their hearts.

Saul and all Israel heard the words of the Philistine with dismay and great fear. 

Full of self satisfaction, Goliath turned around to leave, stomping through the crowd of cheerful Philistines back to his camp to rest-up.

Israel watched with relief this head above heads drift farther away from them. Goliath left his pathetic enemy to fret and to plan their response.

Once they saw the giant leave, Israel turned and fled back to the shelter of their own home base. Brothers in battle yielded to brothers in terror. All of their fighting was as nothing if just one man could lose the war for their entire nation. They had no giant to match this monster. Some men wondered what slavery would be like. Would they take their wives and children? No one spoke of these fears, they quietly chewed them over and over, like tough tasteless meat, in their anxious hearts.

A commander of Saul’s army passed through the camp loudly proclaiming, “The king will greatly enrich the man who kills Goliath and will give him his daughter and make his family free in Israel. Which one of you will fight for our freedom?”

Aminadab snickered and said to his brother, “As if anyone could. What good is a reward that is impossible to win? Why does he not offer us his whole kingdom?” Eliab nodded nervously.

David, who was looking for his brothers heard the offer and said to the men standing by him, “What did he say shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

Two men shrugged and answered David in unison, “His daughter, and freedom shall be given for the man who kills him.”

His eldest brother Eliab spotted David and heard him.  Eliab’s anger was kindled against David. He said, “Why have you come down? With who have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart; for you have come down just to see the battle.”

David replied, “What have I done now? It was only a question?” He turned away from Eliab toward another and spoke in the same way; and the people answered him again as before.

When the words of faith in God that David spoke were heard, the relieved commander went directly before Saul to let him know that they had a volunteer. Saul immediately sent for him. David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”

Saul looked at his young shepherd and lyre-player, smiled and said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

David answered Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, I took a lamb from the flock, I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them since he has defied the armies of the living God.” David added, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will save me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul carefully considered David’s argument and wondered if it could be true. Then he weighed his options. David or immediate surrender. Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!”

To this day no one knows whether Saul had faith that the living God could prevail through David, or if rather Saul figured that either he would surrender immediately and be enslaved, or that he could buy some time by sacrificing the shepherd, since no one, especially himself, the king, was willing to die at the hands of Goliath. For either reason, Saul put all of his chips on the child.

Let us believe the best, that by allowing the boy to fight Goliath, Saul showed as much faith in God as David did. Saul knew how high the stakes were because, if David was wrong and lost, all of them, even the king, would become slaves of the Philistines, their women defiled, their children made to worship idols.

With his own hands Saul carefully covered David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor and tried to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them. Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch. When done he picked up the sling and said, “Where is that giant Philistine?”

Eliazer ran ahead to the camp of the Philistine and told them that Israel was ready.

Goliath reappeared out of the mass of Philistines and drew near to David with his shield bearer in front of him. Goliath looked at David with disdain for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog that you come to me with sticks?” And Goliath cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “ Come to me and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.”

But David replied, “You come to me with sword and spear, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head, and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by the sword and spear, for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into my hand.”

Goliath ejaculated a hearty laugh. Then he drew near to meet David; in turn David bravely plunged toward the battle line to meet Goliath. David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead, and he immediately fell face down on the ground.

So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, striking Goliath and killing him. There was no sword in David’s hand. Then David ran and stood over Goliath, he grasped his sword, and drew it out of its sheath, and killed him, then he cut off his head with it.

When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. The troops of Israel and Judah rose up with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath. 

ALIVE: Chapter 82 Meeting Saul

Now the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord  tormented him.  And Saul’s servants said to him, “See now, an evil spirit from God has tormented you. Let our Lord now command the servants who attend you to look for someone who is skillful in playing the lyre; and when the evil spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will feel better.”

So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me someone who can play well, and bring him to me.”

One of the young men answered, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a warrior, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.

So Saul sent messengers to Jesse. They found him working in his wood shop. One of the young messengers, like a fanned out peacock full of authority and pride demanded of Jesse, “Send to Saul the king your son David who is with the sheep. Tell him to bring his lyre. Tell him to come with us now.”

“Wait here, I will fetch my son. Mother will take care of you.” Jesse went straight away to find David in the south pasture where he sent him that morning.

“David!” called Jesse from afar when he first spotted him. “Come here !”

David ran over to his father wondering if there had been an emergency with his mother. “What is it father?”

“Two messengers from King Saul have come for you. The king is suffering and needs to hear you play your lyre to soothe him. Get cleaned up, pack and go with them. This is the Lord’s doing.”

“What does this mean father?”

“Observe and serve King Saul. You are a lowly young shepherd of Bethlehem. Look at this invitation as nothing more than the first step of climbing the mountain of the Lord. Go in peace and in prayer my son.”

Together David and Jesse rounded up the sheep and steered them back to their corral.

Father and son walked silently to their home as if walking backward through time and ending up in a mysterious future. Each man filled with his own thoughts and fears translating them into prayer to the Lord dared not speak.”

Meanwhile, David’s mother had prepared a meal for the messengers who waited patiently for David’s arrival so they could return to their distressed king. She prayed while preparing the food.”Lord, may my son and Yours become worthy to lead your Holy people Israel. Teach him and guide him. I see your hand upon him now and I give you glory, honor, praise and worship.” A tear spilled out of the mother’s eye as she became overwhelmed by the significance of this first step since the anointing by Samuel. Through the prayer of her heart this daughter of Judah burst out of the small and dusty village of Bethlehem and into the luminous clean heavens where God heard her and answered her with peace.

With the sheep safely in their pen, Jesse, and then David entered their home and nodded to the strangers, “Greetings, I will soon be ready.” David washed his face and hands in the sink bowl and changed his clothes. Then he gathered some fresh clothes and placed them in a cloth satchel.

While the messengers were eating, Jesse took a donkey and loaded it with bread, a skin of wine, and a kid to send to the king along with his youngest son David.

David, with the confidence of a child of God, not of a man educated and wise in his own eyes, set out for the journey with the messengers and the kid, and his lyre to meet King Saul, whom the prophet Samuel said he would replace.

David was glad to have the lamb walking beside him, his father’s gift to the king. He wondered if this lamb would become a sacrifice of Saul, to carry his sins and to be slaughtered. Certainly, thought David innocently, the sins of Saul must be great for God to want to replace him. He had no idea of why Saul was to be replaced, and neither did Saul. Walking beside the lamb to meet the king David felt chills run down his spine when it occurred to him, that he too was as the lamb being offered to Saul to free him from the torment of his sin. David was as a bloodless sacrifice whose life was about to be altered.

With every step David felt a layer of childhood peel away from his consciousness. A stream of questions came to his mind. Will Saul love him or kill him? Will his sheep back home be well cared for in his absence? Will they wonder where he is?”

David arrived at the palace and looked around in awe. The shepherd boy had never before seen such opulence. Before he could adjust to the grandeur of the space, David was immediately whisked into the parlor where Saul lay on a divan being fanned by his servants. A muscular, nearly naked guard announced their arrival. Another servant pointed to the seat for David. David bowed to the king and sat and lifted his lyre to his lap and plucked a few strings to wake it up. Then he played a melody he composed one hot afternoon after the discovery of a pond he had not known about. The kids were particularly playful that day. All was right with the world. David hoped to convey the joy of that moment through the sounds of his lyre, to his ailing king.

The sound of the lyre struck David as rounder and deeper and so much louder than it ever sounded in the fields, as if it had matured as an instrument. The music transported him back to the fields where he started the day and then boomeranged him back to the luxurious room and the presence of the powerful king. The tones high and low wafted through the air saturating it with its healing power. 

David had been playing for a little over an hour when King Saul stood up, flashed the boy a grateful smile and departed the room. David stopped playing immediately and an attendant promptly ushered David to a room with many beds. David set his satchel and lyre on his new bed and took his first good look around at the unusual surroundings.

When another servant entered the room with a full armor for David, he didn’t know what to think. He had only come to play his lyre, now he is given a bed and an armor. David said out loud for anyone to hear, “Will I stay here? My sheep are waiting for me. Who will tend them?”

“Sire, your sheep are not your concern. The king needs you. He has enrolled you in his service. When you aren’t playing for him, you will be an armor bearer. The food is good here; you will not be uncomfortable.”

David wondered how this person could tell him how he would feel.

For the next seven days David was on stand-by. Whenever the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, David was sent for. He would then fetch his lyre and played it with his hand, and Saul would be relieved and felt better, and the evil spirit would depart from him. This ability to relieve him from the evil spirit gave David power over the king. Saul both needed and resented David for this power. David felt like a prisoner. He both admired and feared the king.

One day, a full moon after David left Bethlehem for the king’s palace, his father Jesse arrived looking for him.

David happened to be outside but within the compound. When he saw his father approaching, he ran up to greet him.

“Oh father, I have never been so glad to see anyone. How are you? How is mother?”

“We are well. Why are you still here?”

“The king needs me often. I must stay and play the lyre, and when I am not playing I have become an armor bearer. I have no say in the matter. I am in the king’s service. How are my sheep? How I long to return to my fields, and to ...” David wanted to say “mother” but he held back to keep this longing in his heart.

Father and son walked into the palace together, David showed his father around the massive building. Jesse too had never been in such a grand edifice before.

Saul had heard of the arrival of Jesse and went out to greet him. Jesse bowed before the king who said, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.”

“We need him too, my lord. I pray thee to allow this young man to go back and forth to feed his sheep and so his mother can savor his youth.”

Saul who had a beloved a son of his own, and was feeling better, acquiesced to Jesse’s request. “He may leave with you for a few days provided he return.”

David was the first to say, “Thank you my lord!” Saul turned around without acknowledging the father’s or the son’s gratitude and left the room.

“Let’s go now!” David said to his father.

Father and son quickly departed, lest the king have a change of heart. God withdrew the evil spirit from Saul to allow David to return to his mother.

David was so glad to be home again. When he spotted his mother rushing towards him with wide and longing arms David’s heart skipped a beat. In their embrace each soul felt the heartbeat of the other so that neither mother nor son knew which beat was their own. Warm moments later they released each other for a good long look. Never had they been apart for so long.

Then David took leave from his mother to see his flock and allow her to prepare the family meal.

The feast was ready. All the brothers came into the home in ones and twos to greet their baby brother and to eat supper. The oldest, Eliab, embraced his youngest brother for the first time. David was caught off guard and didn’t know whether it was because he was missed or because of some change in status that his time at the palace had given him. Nevertheless, David relished his brother’s love and returned it.

The next morning David awoke at first light and dressed quickly. He could not wait another minute to take his sheep out to pasture. His soul thirsted for the solitude, the conditions in which he communed best with God. David needed this time to digest his experience at the palace.

For the first few hours David’s mind was a whirl of memories and new thoughts. Thoughts of all the people in the palace and their roles and the hierarchy and rules of behavior. It had all been so foreign and so uncomfortable for him.

David was straddling a new frightening life and an old comfortable one, and he was glad to be back in his old home, if only for a little while. The kids surrounding him sensed his emotional tumult and hovered closer to him than usual smelling the earth and munching the grass. Days passed in his beloved old routine. He was all the more content and grateful for the shepherd’s life than ever before.


ALIVE: ​Chapter 81, Boy to Man

As David’s boyish body gradually morphed into a muscular manly one, his soul was ripening like a sweet and juicy pear from days and nights of communing alone with God. His active mind sprouted words of love nurtured by the rich soil of his soul, the most exhilarating poetry the world has ever known.

One refreshing spring day after Passover he composed:

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

In green grass He will make me encamp.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in the path of righteousness for his Name’s sake.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

I will fear no evil,

For Thou art with me.

Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

Thou annointest my head with oil.

My cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,

And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

David’s companions were the sheep. He had two favorite sheep that came up to him often and with smiling eyes spoke to him silent words of animal love, without expectation of anything more than the subtle joy of experiencing life and the generosity of nature. Only these two sheep among the herd recognized the spirit of their shepherd as warming as the sun and as luminous. The sheepdogs all recognized it, but only two of the sheep. Their lack of human intelligence didn’t keep these animals from bonding to their young shepherd.

Day after day, some long and still, some shortened by dramatic moments as when a lamb fell into a ravine, or when they were all thirsty and didn’t know when or where they would find water on this first trek to Hebron. For this flock was being lead by a novice and so sometimes they had to suffer together.

One day many months into his solitary role as shepherd, as the sunset dimmed the definitions of day, a blur was spotted by a sheepdog. The shock caused dogs and sheep to emit a cacophony of loud harsh blasts the likes of which this serene wilderness rarely contained. David scanned the vista for the source of such fear and spotted the lone lion stealthily approaching his sheep. Great fear like the man-child had never known ignited in his heart as he grappled for instruction from his inner Mentor. Seconds passed like days as the lion nabbed one of his two lamb-friends and was hungrily eating it alive oblivious to the piercing sounds around him and the hardness of its bones in his mouth.

David’s grief turned into controlled fury. While the lion chewed, David leaped upon it and with his dagger stabbed the lion in his chest. The lion, not immediately affected by the wound thrashed at David with its inborn sense power and dominance. David wrestled the lion with his own sense of responsibility and managed to pull the dagger out for one more stab which penetrated so deeply that it stuck in the craw of the lion’s armpit. The rapid blood loss gradually slowed the lion down, but not without first tearing at David’s skin with the nails of its paws. David squirmed out of the lion’s weakening grasp. With sheep parts still in its mouth the strong lion jaw could not engage in the battle with the boy.

With sheep dogs still barking ferociously David released himself from the weakened lion. The dogs formed the second line of defense and went in for the kill, knowing they would reap the spoils of this battle with enough meat to keep their bellies full for days.

The sheep corralled themselves into one mass of wool and looked on the fray sheepishly as they were unable in any way to protect or defend themselves. When He made them God gave lambs no sense of malice, hot anger, or retaliation. And it was for this reason that they were chosen among all the animals made on the sixth day of creation to receive the sins of others.

Following that incident David was in desperate need of rest. While most of the dogs were gorging themselves on the lion’s body, two others licked David’s wounds as he lay resting and praying.

“My God Who saved me from the jaw of the lion, You are indeed a mighty God, a mighty and powerful God, more powerful than the lion, mightier than death. You sacrificed my precious lamb to show me how able you are. You saved me from the mouth of the lion, and from doubt of your love and your abilities. I will always trust You, I will always from this moment forth serve you. Never let me stray.” David fell into a deep and healing sleep surrounded by his sheep who out of either respect or fear needed to be near their savior.

That star-filled night was particularly warm. A thick breeze swirled around the brave young man embracing him with the earthy spirit of nature. David slept soundly, so soundly that his mother visited him in his dreams to comfort him and let him know how very proud she was to have a son who didn’t run away from the lion devouring his sheep. In his sleep David heard his mother chanting a lullaby. Warm as the breeze and melodious as chimes.

David woke refreshed. By morning the trauma had morphed into a harmless tale, like a piece of iridescent quartz that the boy could drop into his pocket and feel from time to time for the pleasure of its sparkles. The light of that stone shined through his fingers in the darkness of the pocket and radiated into his heart and comforted him, and the comfort was restorative.

It took about a week before David stopped trembling over the memory of the lion that grabbed one of his favorite lambs. Both he and the remaining lamb grieved their loss together. The memory of the sight of his playful and lovable companion in the lion’s jaws tormented him. David decided it was time to go home. He had been out long enough.

The mass that was David and his dogs and his sheep, like a mass of bees moved slowly back to Bethlehem chewing its way through pastures and fields, and walking more quickly across the wadi.

One hot afternoon in the distance David saw a spot approaching quickly. Whether on horse or camel I cannot say. Eventually the spot was close enough for David to recognize his brother Aminadab.

“What are you doing here Aminadab?! Is mother well?”

“Mother is well. A prophet name of Samuel has come to Bethlehem, to Father. They sent me to fetch you. The prophet brought a heifer to sacrifice and he wants all of the sons of Jesse and all the elders to gather for the sacrifice. Let’s go!”

“But even me? Why?”

“Don’t ask any questions. Let’s get these sheep home. No more grazing. They are fat enough for now. Can I help you carry anything?”

David, curious and calm looked at his sheep and his dogs and gave the signal to step it up. Aminadab gave David no further reason for his immediate return.

When they arrived the next day Aminadab said, “Go inside, I will coral the sheep.”

David walked into his home and saw a stranger talking with his father. The two men looked up and in unison smiled and greeted him with a spirit of joy and respect that David had never known. He looked beyond the men and spotted his mother beaming and smiling. He sensed that he shouldn’t run to hug her as he wanted.

“David, this man is Samuel. He is a prophet. In fact, he is the prophet that anointed Saul king over us.”

Samuel looked upon David and noticed how handsome he was. His grief over Saul was supplanted by joy. Samuel noticed that David’s face was ruddy and that he had beautiful blue eyes. The Lord spoke to him saying, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Samuel’s heart swelled within him. The historic significance of the moment for Israel and for the world flashed from God’s heart over to Samuel with such concentration and such speed that it could only be perceived by the human prophet as confusion and a warm afterglow. Samuel looked down with furrowed brow trying to grasp the message but was forced immediately to return to the place and his mission looking up at the young shepherd boy.

David greeted the man with a polite handshake. He felt the prophet pierce his soul with clear green eyes.

Jesse announced, “Samuel has come to sacrifice to the Lord. While we waited for you to arrive the elders gathered and we sacrificed the heifer he brought. But before he leaves, the prophet asked me to bring you here. He wanted to meet all of my sons.”

David wondered why the prophet waited for his return being the youngest, most insignificant member of the family.

Samuel revealed his primary mission to the family. “My son,” said Samuel, “our Lord God has chosen you among all of Israel to replace Saul as king. I have come to anoint you.”

Jesse and his wife and his seven sons gasped in unison.

David looked at Samuel and then over to his father in shock. “Anoint me?! For what? We already have a king.”

The brothers murmured. No one noticed that David’s mother’s face turned white and then filled back up in a bloody blush.

Samuel didn’t allow any more conversation as he reached into his satchel for the horn and oil.

Meanwhile Jesse said to his son. “This must be the Lord’s doing. We shall not question the Lord.”

Samuel obeyed the Lord and took the horn of oil, and anointed David in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David.

Tears flowed like a stream from David’s eyes. He was not sad, but rather overwhelmed by a pure Spirit the likes of which the young man had never experienced. Though appearing weak he was purified and stronger as the Spirit, whom he recognized as his inner Mentor and Protector bloomed like yeast in his soul.

When the young man settled down, and the tears stopped flowing, Samuel with wet eyes of his own hugged him.

“I must be off now to Ramah.” announced Samuel to Jesse and his family.

“Wait my Lord!” said David’s mother. Let me prepare a meal for you first. Please don’t go. It is evening; you ,just stay the night and leave in the morning.”

“Yes,” added Jesse to Samuel. “We have so many questions. What will happen now? How will the people recognize that Davis is their new king? How can this child be king?”

The seven brothers sat silently each with his own muffled thoughts, not as much out of reverence but rather each young man was dumbfounded that their baby brother might become king of Israel.

“I have already eaten plenty from the Lord’s table this day. I must go. Say nothing about the anointing.  Only this can I say: David, my son. You will be tried and tested. Before you will act as king you will become a king, the shepherd of our people Israel. Just as you were born a babe and took many years and much to learn to become a man, you were born this day an infant king.  Keep your heart as pure as you sense that it is at this moment and you will be safe. Hardship and grief will not depart from your house in this life, because of your own sinfulness and because of the sinfulness of the world. Yea, just as the scepter did not pass from the house of Judah, but was handed to you on this day, so will it stay in your house into eternity. Learn well my son. Farewell.”

As the sun was setting, Samuel walked out of the home of Jesse and through the village into the wilderness with his head bowed in thought. As he passed villagers in Bethlehem they turned to ask each other why he had come to Bethlehem and to the house of Jesse.

David wished only to rest. The day was as a new birthday. He felt himself to be  a different man, no longer a boy. And yet his brothers refused to regard him differently. He withdrew into his bed, exhausted and exhilarated, and drew the blanket up over his head to create for himself a cocoon in which he hoped to emerge as a butterfly in the morning.

Life returned as normal to the house of Jesse except for to David and his mother. She tried to find an opportunity to speak with him, but now that he was a man with work to do, he was always either eating, sleeping or leaving as all the others. So she spoke to God instead. She thanked Him for the honor and asked Him questions about the future that God did not answer. In humility she settled on simple praises and gratitude. Would that she would have had just one daughter, but that was denied her.

81 annointing David.jpg

ALIVE:Chapter 80 Boy to Shepherd

The moon was full and radiated its dim timeless light over Bethlehem. David opened the coral in chilly darkness and called the sheep, his sheep, to come to him. They immediately obeyed and poured out of the gate in twos and threes with the yapping sheep dogs scurrying out first, anxious to please the young master and to lead the way. David quickly reviewed all the steps he needed to take to harness his brood and guide them. He was sure of the way out of town, but was less sure of the way to Hebron. His doubts and fears of getting lost, of wild animals, of failing in his mission gradually dissolved under the power of the hymns he was humming in defense of his soul; the hymns his mother taught him to expel demons. While fighting this internal skirmish his body mechanically and intuitively lead him, the leader of the lambs, directly to the pastures of Hebron.

These would be the first steps into a new life for David and he was ready. He had a strong sense that he was not as he appeared to be, a boy leading a herd to Hebron pastures, but rather a young man with a Spirit within which was himself and at the same time, not himself because It guided him beyond what his own knowledge could, and instructed him beyond his limited experience. The boy-man sensed the presence of an invisible life force, be it angels or the Spirit of the Lord Himself surrounding him. He was not alone. The sheep he had for physical companionship, but the Lord for instruction, guidance, and protection, gems the sheep were oblivious to.

As David walked he thought too about the trek of his ancestors out of Egypt. He tried to imagine being there and what it was like to walk away from slavery. He pretended that his sheep were people and that he was Moses leading the way. David had learned about Moses and the Exodus from his father; he was proud to be of the tribe of Judah. Judah was the one who told his brothers to sell Jospeh to the Ishmaelite instead of killing him like they planned to do, or just leaving him in the pit to die as Rueben suggested. It was Judah who made the first move that saved Israel from starvation. It was Judah who convinced Jacob to allow the brothers to take Benjamin to Egypt as Joseph demanded, who was willing to become surety that Benjamin would return safely. Judah lead the way when his father Jacob and the entire family moved into Egypt at Pharaoh’s invitation.

But most importantly and what made David feel like the son of a king was when Jacob elevated Judah above his brothers in his blessing. He said, “Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He crouches down, he stretches out like a lion, like a lioness-who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him, and the obedience of the people is his. Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he washed his garments in wine and his robe in the blood of grapes; his eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk.”

This man, his great grandfather Judah, thought David, surely lives deep within me. “Perhaps it is the spirit of Judah who is guiding me and my sheep fearlessly through the wilderness to Hebron. Judah sleeps deep within me,”  thought David as he paraded proudly with his staff held high like a scepter leading his sheep not towards Hebron, but perhaps even farther, maybe even as far as Jerusalem. “Surely” thought David, “as Judah led Israel into Egypt, I, the son of Judah should lead them out.” And out loud he yelled, “Lambs, let’s go!”

After several hours of parading his sheep to Hebron, David, son of Judah, spotted the first grassy pasture and decided to stop to let the sheep feed and spend the night. He spotted a large broad Sycamore tree that could give him a backrest and a canopy to shade him from the sun. Perfect. David walked up to the tree and leaned his shepherd’s staff up against it, unpacked his duffle bag and prepared for himself a cozy bed on the dry ground. The sheep wandered around munching grass and wild flowers; the youngest frolicked cheerfully. David unpacked his mother’s food and joined his animals in a hardy meal while the sun rapidly descended behind the western mountain range, and the hot air gradually cooled again.

When nighttime fell over the earth and David had no brother or father to talk to, he pulled his lyre out from the satchel and played himself into sleepiness.

When he stopped playing the sudden silence alarmed him. He swallowed his fear so to speak, and unfolded his bedroll to sleep. Laying between the blankets, rather than falling from sleepiness into sleep, David grew more awake. He lay there, thinking and hoping sleep would come. Two dogs lay close to him to keep him warm. He couldn’t tell if they were sleeping or just being still.

This was his very first night all alone in the fields. David felt a sting of sorrow contemplating the transition from being with his mother all day to being with his brothers. Suddenly what  occurred to David was the loss his mother must have  felt when he left her alone to go into the fields. Such abandonment. Such loneliness. He had left her companionless. The sensitivity she conveyed to his young soul had to be met head on, lest he crumble. The only way David knew he could survive was to become aware of the presence of God. He was not alone. That was the reality of it. And if he was not alone, then he could communicate with his Companion Yahweh, listen carefully for words of guidance and comfort, not from his bulky brothers, or his tender mother, but from a richer, wiser, invisible Power, just as real, just as loving as his mother, just as instructive as his brothers. On this night, for the first time, David spoke directly to God. He poured out his heartfelt thoughts as if he could see the Lord. Through his words God became manifest to the man-child.

These were the thoughts that lulled young David into sleep on his first night as a full fledged shepherd. The morning light, a blazing red streak across the sky, woke him up before the sun popped up behind the mountain range. When he opened his eyes and remembered where he was and why, his first thoughts which resounded so loudly in his soul that David couldn’t tell if he spoke them or thought them were, “Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam, hamotzi lechem min ha-aretz.” [Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.] “Sh'ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Ecḥad” [Hear, O Israel: the Lord is  our God, the Lord is One.] "His soul sang to Him the prayers that his mother had placed there from his infancy.

David lay there for a few moments and listened to his heart praying while staring into the cloudless sky. Then he pulled himself up and looked for his sheep and counted them. What a relief, not one was missing. Being busy packing his bed and eating kept David from thinking. The dogs who had corralled the sheep spotted David and raced each other to reach him looking for affirmation and food. He reached into his food bag and pulled out a measure for the day. He hoped to kill game to feed the dogs with that day.

In silence David, packed up his bed, rounded up the sheep and headed south across the wadi to reach the pastures on the other side.

The day was particularly hot and dry. Even the sheepdogs had slowed down. Yet, David began to feel more alert and alive than he had ever felt before. Thoughts descended onto his mind like a refreshing spring rain. Like he was being instructed by a master. As he walked he suddenly saw his sheep, his companions as so much more than animals, as his subjects. He saw them as warming blankets, as nourishing food, as healing lanolin, that they would become.

Then in shock he saw them as recipients of sin, of his sin and his brothers’ sin. This alarming conclusion brought tears to David’s eyes. He suddenly felt embarrassed and ashamed before them. He no longer felt like their master, instead he was aware that he was their debtor. Someday one of them would be murdered for David’s sin. What a gruesome thought. He tried to shake it from his mind. He looked at the sheep and wondered which one it would be. Which innocent sheep would bear his iniquity? One of them had to, God demanded it. God demanded animal sacrifice to spare him, like He sent the ram at the moment Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac. That innocent ram proved Abraham’s trust and obedience. One of these sheep would prove David’s obedience and gratitude. David, son of Judah lowered his scepter which turned back into a staff as his heart shied away from his sense of royalty and into a sense of shame and humility.

“But why?” David asked his inner Mentor. Why did God ever require the death of the innocent lamb? Enemies die. Enemies should be killed lest they kill us. Not friends, not ignorant but generous woolen sheep! “Dear Lord, let them die of old age after a full life enjoying the sun and grass.” cried this unusual son of a holy mother.

His inner Mentor simply replied, “The Law is life.”

David followed that statement to its opposite wholeness. “If the law is life and I transgress the law, then I am as death.”

The Mentor smiled approvingly in David’s heart.

“I don’t only deserve to die,” thought David,  “because I have violated life, I am death. This sheep never violated laws of nature like man violates laws of nature and of God.”  David was not so young and innocent that he didn’t know about evil men. He heard about girls his age being raped, about old men going into children, about thieves and those men who kill for pleasure, about animal men. Remember Lot’s evil visitors?  Worse. Animals would never violate the laws of nature as do these men.

David looked deep within himself and saw how often he violated the law, when he played on the Sabbath, when he was rude to his father, when he lied, when he coveted his neighbor’s bow and arrows. The law is life. To violate the law is death. The death of the lamb restores life to the man. The man is resurrected whose violations are passed on to the lamb in humility and gratitude, and repentance. The lamb is king, not David. To shepherd the ignorant recipient of his death, even if there is only one in the hundreds of sheep who will bear his sins, he didn’t know which one it would be, so he had to treat them all as the one who would bear his sins, and the sins of his brothers and his father. To shepherd them is to prepare them all to teach the meaning of, ‘The law is life, and to violate the law is death.’

How ignorant is man? As ignorant as these sheep, but as holy too.

As he walked behind the sheep to make sure none strayed, with the dogs corralling them in front, David saw wooly animals that carry the sins that eat away at souls, like lice that eat away at a body; the rebellious deeds of everyone he knew. This thought frightened David and caused tears to well up in his chest, brimming enough to spill from his eyes a bit. It seemed too unfair, they were so innocent. So ignorant of their sacred sacrificial job. “If only a person, a human being,” thought David, “with full knowledge of carrying the sins of others were to be sacrificed, it would make sense.” Then he thought that no human being could or would accept such punishment for others. No one. We need the ignorance of animals.

The Mentor quickly corrected David’s thought. “Is it punishment really?”

“Of course it is!”

“Not true. Not true my son.”

The sacrifice of the lambs is a noble act performed to teach, to show the effect of failure to choose life and to adhere to its path. The law is Life. That is not an arbitrary statement. The law forms a safe and narrow path, like stepping stones to immortality. Death of the lamb teaches the calamity of the missed step.”

“But the lamb doesn’t know that!”

The ignorance of the lamb is merciful. It will be killed for food anyway. Through its sacrifice, the lamb feeds the soul of man, not just his body.

“I still think it would be just for a man to be sacrificed because it is man’s sin that causes death.” retorted David boldly to The Mentor.

The Mentor withdrew in silence to leave a David with his thoughts and with his lambs heading to the richest pastureland in all of Israel

80 david shepard boy.jpg

ALIVE: Chapter 78, David

A babe was born in Bethlehem destined to be the king of the Jews.  He was the joy of his mother who cherished this child more than all the rest for being the last to suckle her old breasts and to cuddle. For the first seven days of his brand new life the babe was cradled in his loving mother’s  arms and offered the tit at every whimper.

On the eighth day, Jesse and his wife submissively carried their eighth son to the tent of meeting to be marked by circumcision as his personal sign of the covenant between Yahweh and his great-grandfather Abraham who merited it with his extraordinary faith. Imagine trusting God’s promise for a son every day for over fifty years, to finally be granted the heart’s longing at the most unlikely age of one hundred, when the mother was 90. Then, when the love between father and son had fully ripened, to be willing, without hesitation to give the miraculous child back to God upon His request. Imagine that kind of patience, that kind of trust. Now look at how that mustard seed became a gigantic tree. Trillions of sons receiving the mark of that covenant of trust, of affiliation with the awesome God, on their eighth day.

It is written that God created the world in six days and on the seventh day He rested. The eighth day therefore is the beginning of the world with everything in place and ready to go. The eighth day is the beginning of the world for humankind, the crown of Creation. Circumcision is the discreet mark that links the baby boy with the faith and patience of Abraham. It symbolizes right relationship with God. It is the supreme gift of the parent after life itself, rich with hope and meaning. Circumcision is a sacred rebirth.

The brothers and sisters gathered around the baby boy like a gaggle of geese of different sizes. The babe whaled louder than all his brothers put together thought Jesse, as if the devil itself clung to his tiny foreskin in defiance. When it was over, mama quickly grabbed her babe and nearly suffocated him in her swollen bosom rocking him back and forth trying to drown out his shrieks with louder lullabies until his pain subsided.

The family paraded back to their own home where baby David was gently laid in his cushy wooden cradle fast asleep. That afternoon, it was if all of Bethlehem came to visit the newest member of the tribe and to congratulate the father. The following weeks of mama’s purification were blissful as neighbors continued to bring the family food and help with the chores to allow the mother to devote herself to the newborn.

As the thirty-third day of the period of purification grew near Jesse and his older sons argued about which lamb to select for the burnt offering and which turtle dove for the sin offering. The boys and their father bantered back and forth about the birthday of each lamb to be sure that it was under one year old. There had been two litters that year and they both produced two little lambs.  Mama insisted that they bring her two lambs and two turtledoves so she could make the final selection. Days before the sacrifice was to be held mama had the boys wash and comb the chosen lamb to offer it in its most pure condition.

The eighth son of Jesse radiated a glow that echoed his infant giggles. He beautified his tiny world with his rosy cheeks and big bright eyes. Gay, lovable, and alert, this infant child was the holiest one of his aging mother. Wisdom and experience whispered to her daily that he was indeed special. She knew that perception was a secret between her and God. To Jesse, the eighth son soon became just another mouth to feed, more tasks for an already heavily burdened wife until he could be useful.

Seven older brothers weighed heavily on David. As the sprout grew into a sapling it became increasingly apparent to the beloved child that his mother’s admiration was not shared by his brothers. David took his first wobbly steps toward Eliab who pushed him down and then ran away. He didn’t cry, but instead stood up again and wobbled three more steps before falling down on his own.

Every Friday, as sunset marked the beginning of Shabbat the family gathered at the tent of meeting to witness the offerings. David’s mother surveyed her children trying to lock eyes to read each heart. Invariably toddler David’s were clenched tightly closed. “What is going on in there that this child is searching for?” thought his mother. “Perhaps he is listening for the songs I sing to him before bedtime, or the poems I compose to entertain him.” Surely this mother poured herself into her holy child. Oh mother did you know your baby boy would grow to rule the nations?

Baby David grew into a strong but mischievous child. Life in the village of Bethlehem was typical. The Sabbath was strictly observed as were all the laws of Moses that they could remember. Levite priests travelled from village to village to ensure the preservation of all the laws, and to serve as judges. Hundreds of specific regulations had to be followed and the priests without their own land, at least had their power and income to source their pride. They were the police of their world, the keepers of the covenant,the links between man and a precise and demanding God. 

On his fifth birthday the child was given a lyre to play with to pass his time while mother and father, older sisters and brothers were busy keeping house, tending the sheep, and training for wars from marauding neighbors.

From sunrise to sunset young David played the lyre with focus and determination. At first the sounds were so objectionable that everyone but his patient mother yelled complaints. Mother noticed that the sound, as bad as it was kept the snakes away and she was glad for that. Months later, she was rewarded as something like a melody surprised her with joy. After that, more and more harmony emanated from boy and his lyre to the delight of the entire family.

His mother kept him near as her young minstrel entertained her while she washed clothes, fetched water, and cooked. She would hum along and often compose lyrics that fit the melodies. David’s heart swelled to hear the fears and yearnings of his dear mother put to song. It was as if a Holy Spirit flowed through mother and son blessing the air with sounds of the heart that sewed them to each other and to God. Surely, thought the mother, this child is a gift from God for her old age.


ALIVE: Chapter 77 King of the Flesh

There is a golden goblet of life. It is filled with blood-red wine. So thick that one could not tell whether it was born of grape or man. The taste of it is time. It is the time of kings and prophets. To the tongue of a keen judge the wine of life is smokey sweet.

To God, the Lord of time, it is a goblet brimming with the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Once deadly poisonous, calloused souls merely suffer indigestion from this poisonous fruit, like the indigestion of repeated indulgence in hearty meals. Yes, this blood-red wine still kills, but the death is slow and barely noticed is its coming. The drinker accepts this slow death like the eye accepts tears from the heart. Like the lame accepts the wheelchair.

In our journey through the woodland of the earthly life of the sons and daughters of the Maker, we arrive at the era of kings and prophets.

The Promise Land flowing with milk and honey turned into a bloody field of battle where baby boys grew to become soldiers who wrenched their mother’s hearts. Where the King of Glory was swept aside to make room for the king whose power emanated from sharp metal swords. The sword, that tool of murder and victory replaced the mystical staff of Moses. Muscle made a sore substitute for mystical.

The King of Glory gazed upon His Creation with dismay and love. He never abandoned Adam. Like a good father, He answered when called upon, and gave advice when it was not requested.

“Enough leisure!” bellowed God to Gracefeld and Perambula. “Your sabbatical is ended. Go back to earth. There is work to be done.”

“Where will you have us go my Lord?” replied Perambula. “Your people have scattered far and wide. They are free.”

“Free to make a mockery of your Law.” added Gracefeld

“Free to demand a king!” said Perambula cynically. “Will they never cease to insult You, my Lord? Why oh why do you not destroy this lot and start over? These people are clearly not worthy of You my Lord.”

“I agree.” said Gracefeld.

“My dear angels. This is exactly why you are so different than mankind, than Me. I don’t mind taking tiny steps through time. You think that if you aren’t flying, you aren’t moving. Patience! You will behold the day when life ultimately shatters death. When impudence unfolds its moldy layers to heal in the warmth of light. When the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil is fully ripened  and then consumes itself in its rottenness. When blood and oxygen no longer sustain life.”

“In our simplemindedness my Lord, we cling to You and love You and serve You.” sung Gracefeld trying to divert the conversation away from embodiment, the thought of which always confused this angel.

Picking up on Gracefeld’s turn of tone, God said, “For now, my friends, let’s just give them a king.”

There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, a man of wealth. He had a son named Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than Saul; he stood shoulders above everyone else.

“Perambula” said God, “Go down to the House of Kish and lead his donkeys astray. Drive them through the hill country of Ephraim and through the land of Shalishah, then through the land of Shaalim. Go beyond Benjamin to Zuph where My prophet Samuel lives. Saul will be recognized by the prophet and anointed king there.”

“My Lord, with all due respect, first you have me drive your slaves out of Egypt and now I am being asked to drive sheep. Is this a demotion?”

God smiled at Perambula’s attempt at humor. “Drive the animals and watch the young man follow.

Tell Samuel to anoint the tall man the king.”

Perambula looked confused. “My Lord, why would you select a king for his appearance? How can stature and shape of face have anything whatsoever to do with the qualifications of a king?”

“My dear Perambula in their shallowness the people demand to be like their neighbors. They would not accept anything less than physical appeal because their desire is material.

“I will use this big but ordinary man to prepare My true choice for their king. I have already selected a boy after my own heart. Saul is the forerunner.” said God feeling self satisfied in His shrewdness.

Gracefeld chimed in, “Did You just say my Lord that You will give them a tall king who is not even a holy man?”

“Holy?” replied God. “He is not even capable of simple  obedience! The man Saul will served My purpose.  Enough conversation. It’s your turn to be obedient, now go and drive those animals, and for heaven’s sake, don’t get lost!”

Perambula and Gracefeld carried out their mission well, being among the most reliable angels of their rank in the Lord’s stable.

The tall handsome young man was anointed king much to his own surprise. With the confidence that his title bestowed upon him Saul proceeded to act kingly by leading armies to fight enemies..

For all his victories, and unaware of the aid provided by Gracefeld and Perambula, King Saul proceeded to award himself generously. Along with the material grandeur of homes and wives, purple cloth, cheese and leather, came the spiritual decay of hubris, arrogance, and ever increasing self aggrandizement. Saul became a perfect characature of a king. The king that God had warned the people about. Taking their riches for himself. And yet in his soul, perhaps because of his meteoric rise from shepherd to king on one day, Saul keenly felt the inner conflict of unworthiness which of course he continually misinterpreted.

One day in the midst of a losing battle with the Philistines the Hebrews, to save themselves, squirreled into any cave they could find. Meanwhile King Saul was at Gilgal waiting for Samuel to come and pray for victory. Saul had gotten word that Samuel would arrive in seven days. On the seventh day Saul was overcome with fear and anxiety because Samuel had not yet arrived.

In desperation, Saul barked, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the offering of well being! Quickly!” So King Saul went ahead and offered the burnt offering himself instead of waiting for the prophet. As soon as he finished, Samuel arrived and Saul went out to meet him. Samuel said, “What have you done?”

Saul replied that that the people, his soldiers were slipping away and that Samuel hadn’t come yet on the seventh day and that the Philistines were getting ready to attack. He was in a tough spot and needed to entreat the Lord, so he forced himself to perform the burnt offering ceremony.

Furious, Samuel said, “You have done foolishly! You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God which He commanded you. The Lord would have established your kingdom forever, but now your kingdom will not continue because your impatience caused you to be disobedient.”

Saul turn his face from the prophet and walked away sorrowful and confused. How could this old man take his kingdom away from him? Possibly he didn’t, not really. Nothing had changed. He still had his homes and his food.

Saul was not aware of the callouses growing on his heart. He was blind to the army of invisible demons that had latched onto his mind. In fact, as Saul continued to lead his armies to battle against the Philistines he very subtly morphed into an emotionally disturbed tyrant.

Besides, there were more battles and more fighting and killing to be done. Saul felt competent on the battlefield. The more enemies he could kill, the stronger grew his self-worth. There was nothing like a hard fought battle to take one’s mind off of Samuel and his threats.

Months later, on a morning after a particularly fretful night Samuel appeared at the palace of King Saul and was ushered into his throne room.

“What can I do for you?” asked Saul.

“I have come to give you a message from the Lord.”


“Thus saith the Lord, I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.  Now go to attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”

When Perambula heard the message the angel was astonished.

“Gracefeld, did you hear that? Did you know this? God is ordering mass destruction of a nation of people for something their ancestors did! Even children! How horrid, how violent!”

Gracefeld replied, “Perambula, are you disputing the Lord’s order?! You must know that He has His good reasons. Rest assured that in the end, all will be just and right and good. Now please don’t distract me. Listen!”

When Saul heard it, he was glad. Perhaps Samuel was giving him a second chance to regain his kingship. Coming straight from the Lord God, he knew that victory was in his hands. This was a job he was well suited for and so King Saul went right to work preparing for battle. Within weeks Saul raised up an army of two hundred thousand foot soldiers, and ten thousand soldiers of Judah.

They stealthily moved into the valley by the city of Amalekites.

On the way Saul spotted Kenites and sent a message to their leader, “Go! Leave! Withdraw from among the Amalekites, or I will destroy you with them; but I don’t want to, because you showed kindness to Israel when they came up out of Egypt.”

The Kenites were grateful for the warning and departed en masse as efficiently as they could, every man, woman and child packed up and scurried away from the Amalekites.

King Saul and His army waited to charge.

The battle went as expected and all the Amalekites were destroyed, but Saul and the people spared Agag, their king, and the best of the sheep and of the cattle and of the failings, and the lambs and all that was valuable.

As expected, God saw that Saul disobeyed the directive to destroy everything. Nevertheless God was angry.

Gracefeld was dispatched to tell Samuel about the Lord’s disappointment and fury. The Lord had given Saul one more chance to recover from his mistake of impatience, but once again the man failed to obey.

Gracefeld went directly to Samuel in prayer. The angel spoke to Samuel. “Samuel, thus says the Lord, ‘I regret that I made Saul king, for He has turned back from following me, and has not carried out My commands.’ He will come to you. Admonish him again!”

When Samuel heard that, he was angry too and cried out to the Lord all night. ‘Why oh why Lord did You have me select this foolish stubborn man?”

Perambula heard that and added, “Didn’t I tell you Lord?! How could you have picked a man to be king for his beauty and stature? You may as well have picked a stallion?”

The next morning Saul arrived.

After the victorious batter Saul had gone to Carmel where he set up a monument to himself. On his return he passed on down to Gilgal to visit Samuel and report his victory.

Samuel was sitting under the tree outside his home waiting for the king.

Saul arrived proud and cheerful. “May you be blessed by the Lord; I have carried out the command of the Lord!”

Samuel retorted, “What then is the bleating of sheep that I hear?”

Saul replied matter-of-factly with a big toothy grin, shoulders back and chest out, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the cattle to sacrifice to the Lord, your God; but the rest we utterly destroyed.”

Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me  last night.”

He replied, “Yes?”

Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And the Lord sent you to utterly destroy the Amalekites until they are utterly consumed. Why didn’t you obey? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?”

“But I did obey. I have only brought back the king Agag and the best sheep and cattle  to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

Samuel replied, “Surely to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is no less a sin than divination, and stubbornness is like iniquity, and idolatry.

Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you from being king.”

Saul, in his foolishness was astonished to hear that he messed up again and just when he was feeling so good about himself! He sensed immediately that this was no time to argue his position, and that contrition was the only valid response.

Saul spoke his mind, “I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice (passing the blame as did Adam) Now therefore I pray pardon my sin, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”

Samuel said to Saul, “You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.”

As Samuel turned to go away, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. Samuel looked down at his hem and up at Saul’s face and said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this very day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours who is better than you. Moreover, the Lord will not change His mind, for He is not a mortal that He should change his mind.”

Then Saul said again with contrition, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.”

Ignoring this plea Samuel turned his back on Saul. But Saul still went to worship the Lord.

Meanwhile Samuel asked for Agag the king of the Amelikites to be brought to him. When he arrived, Agag could see that he was doomed.

Agag full of fear said, “Surely this is the bitterness of death.”

Samuel replied, “As your sword has made women childless, so your mother shall be childless among women.”

And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord at Gilgal.

Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went” up to his house in Gibeah of Saul.

Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul.

And the Lord was sorry that he made Saul king over Israel.

And Perambula whispered, “I told you so.” winced and then flew into huge white cumulus clouds.


ALIVE: Chapter 76, Reluctantly Letting Go of Moses

Perambula circled around Mt. Hor, over the dead body of Moses, while Gracefeld accompanied his soul to Sheol. Day and night Perambula hovered there to protect this precious flesh and bones from being defiled by hungry animals. The angel waited for men to arrive to carry Moses back down the mountain and then to bury him in Moab.

Passing Gracefeld and the soul of Moses, God arrived at the scene where Perambula was guarding the Elder.

“My Lord!” exclaimed Perambula surprised to see God appear.

“”Good morning Perambula.”

“Look at this dead body of your servant Moses. This shell of the man to whom You revealed Yourself and the history of the world. He is lifeless!”

“I can see that Perambula.”

“Lord, I thought that you were so disgusted after the Flood that you planned to destroy death. Look at this man, and all those thousands of people, your people, who died before entering the Promise Land. My Lord, and I say this with utmost respect, how do You think You are doing with this plan of Yours to destroy death?”

God smiled His most confident smile and replied, “Patience my dear Perambula. When I destroy death, it will be perfectly and thoroughly done and it will be forever. These human beings, although they were made in my image and likeness have so disfigured My Face that there is much restoration needed, and much for them to experience and to learn.  Besides, I have given the devil and its demons freedom for a time to oppose Me, but actually through their evil deeds they will show men the effects of ignorance and disobedience. This revelation will allow the wiser ones decide for themselves whether or not to choose life.”

“Lord the humans are so weak, is that fair?” mumbled Perambula meekly.

“Of course it’s fair! Freedom is the greatest gift I have to offer life. These beings are free to choose life or death. I see so many of them choose death by rebellion, faithlessness, and distrust; passions gone wild. Satan rejoices in that. But disease, strife and maladies of every kind result and so they go out of their ways with all their intelligence to repair the causes of death without going to the root of the problem, that is that they chose death and don’t even realize it. They choose suffering and then lament it.

One by one a man or a woman learns. The light of life will shine through the darkness. On that day I will rejoice that Life was the precious choice of his or her own will after their personal confrontation with Satan and death. This change of mind, this awakening, this resurrection is important to Me. Transformation means more to Me than even those who chose life from the beginning for the repentant have confronted My enemy and prevailed.”

God simplified His response and added, “My friend Perambula as much as I despise death, as much as death was not, I repeat NOT in My Will for Creation, I must endure it a while longer. You will understand all of this when the heavy fog that surrounds you is lifted.”

Perambula’s angel eyes opened wide to look around for the fog that God meant as a metaphor.

“For now, fret not for Moses or any of the people in Sheol. I will free them and judge them with a judgement that no other keen eye can judge man by: one by one. Reading their hearts and intentions, remembering their acts of kindness and hatred, faith and rebelliousness. Knowing their battles with the enemy and the part the evil one played in their evil deeds. On that day, and I won’t tell you when, I assure you that the heart of flesh will never again suffer death. Trust Me. Here they come. Accompany the men to carry Moses down this mountain. I don’t want them to drop him!”

“Yes, my Lord.” replied Perambula wrapped in a shroud of thought as the angel observed Pineal and Zachariah who were approaching to carry the heavy lifeless flesh of Father Moses down the rocky mountain.

“There he is!” shouted Pineal. Zechariah rushed to catch up. The two men looked down upon old Moses lying on the rock, his face looking up at the heavens and his legs twisted from collapsing beneath him. Zechariah bent down and touched his cold hard hand and in fear he immediately stood back up.

“Let us pray Pineal.”

Pineal nodded. The two strong young men bowed their heads. Zechariah filled with the Spirit said, “Blessed be God, and blessed be His great Name, and blessed be His holy angels. May His holy Name be blessed throughout all the ages. Though He punished this man Moses, He has had mercy on Him. Blessed are you, oh God with every pure blessing; let all Your chosen ones bless You. Let them bless You forever. Be our guide on this path to take Your holy man down this mountain. This mountain where his flesh saw you for the last time, and let us bury him deep in the earth of your making. Give him peace in death. Amen and Amen.”

Pineal added. “Amen and amen.”

Then Pineal and Zechariah struggled to get a good hold on the body and carefully retrace their steps down the steep mountain of Hor.

The task was difficult. Perambula frequently had to adjust the men’s steps. More than once Perambula needed to defy gravity to keep the body from falling out of painful arms. Perambula looked on the lifeless shell of Moses, whom the angel had grown to love with great sorrow and awe. The angel wondered how such a holy servant of God could be reduced to matter alone, like a rock or a piece of rotten wood. Perambula, being immortal, thought that the death of a person, who was so much like God, so much like an angel, must be the most curious, most mystifying of all phenomenon on the planet.

Following the burial of Moses Perambula flew up into the second heaven, beyond the sky. The farther Perambula flew from earth, the cleaner and more free the angel felt. Perambula zoned in on Gracefeld and together the two angels, who had been awarded a sabbatical after decades of watching over Israel, left the tribes to the care of lower angels and flew somersaults in the air. Carefree at last they played and gazed at the universe to see the sun and moon rotate in a steady rhythm like a giant heartbeat. The view from the heavens was stunning. Perambula thought that the beauty of the heavens was a marvel so spectacular that familiarity could not ever diminish its glory by even one iota.

From time to time our two angels scooped down closer to the earth, but never as close as when they had worked there. All they could see from that distance were thousands of specks, each one a soul. One bright hot day the angels hovered over a long shoreline and saw specks in the shore and colorful umbrellas dug in the sand, and some other specks of humans floating in the sea.  Specks, each one representing a heart and soul. The angels didn’t care about the absurdity of those black flecks being important to God. They simply reveled in the light show of days and nights, the light show of time, months and years, which meant nothing to these angelic beings, and everything to God’s mortal creatures.

During this dazzling celestial light show Israel settled into the Promise Land. Each tribe occupied a piece of land that had belonged to others before them. Gad here, Reuben over there. They spread themselves wide apart so each would have plenty of space to grow their nations. Each tribe helped the other to supplant the peoples until each of the twelve tribes of Israel had a new homeland that gradually became an old homeland. No one gave any thought to the men, women, and children that died or had to flee their homes and villages to be replaced by Israel. They simply disappeared from the Promise Land and that was all that mattered to the Jews.

There were men and women, born during the days when Caleb and Joshua first returned from spying out the land, who had known nothing but wandering for forty years. These, it was who never knew Egypt. They  walked day after day from the moment of birth until forty years passed as they grew from lively children to mischievous youngsters and mature adults. These had to make the adjustment from being nomads to residents of a stabile homeland.

Through Moses God had bestowed upon mankind the laws with their consequences and punishments, and also with their blessings. Even as He had fixed the sun and moon in the sky to automatically create the day and to make food grow, He gave the Law to reveal Himself and to govern behavior. God created the earth on a firm foundation of physics, biology, astronomy, and all the sciences man had come to recognize and to learn about. Yet without the Law, without a knowledge of the origin of mankind and its history and its purpose, without the Law to govern human interaction, and man’s interaction with their Maker chaos would eventually make the planet uninhabitable. Wild animals could not destroy the world as much as wild humans.


As I wrote those words, I was shocked to suddenly hear The Lord God call me. Me! Little me!

“Yes, my Lord,” I replied meekly, and frankly quite frightened that I had irritated the King of Glory. “What did I say? What did I do this time?”

“Stop!” He said firmly. “It is time for you to let go of Moses! It’s been two years. Move on, there is much more to describe about being Alive.”

“I just can’t my Lord.” I replied, “I have tried. I promise you. There is so much to say about Father Moses. It’s more than the story. Without Moses, his life, his service to You and for humankind I am afraid that humanity would sink deeper and deeper with each century into the darkness of ignorance, never to see Your Light, to know where we came from and where we are going. I imagine without Moses, his capacity to speak with you as he did, to serve you as he did, we would be no more than animals with speech.”

“Look around Evangeline. I would not allow that to happen. Humanity asked for death through Eve. The light that I offer even through the vail of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil will suffice. I will allow you this final chapter on Moses, but after that I insist that you never mention Moses again!”

“My Lord, that is too much to ask! Never even mention your servant whom You loved, to whom You revealed the secrets of the Creation of the World, who is revered by the holy and the heretics alike?”

“Evangeline!” God said firmly, “Now, I sense you are trying to persuade me as did Moses.”

“My Lord!” said I.

My Lord replied, “There is so much more to write before this book can finally end! You must move along.”

“I know that my Lord. I often think about how far we have to go and the diamonds along the road. In fact, I become overwhelmed by the beauty of it, so that perhaps I fear that I will not be able ....”

“You know better than to say that My child.”

“I know that I must explain the other side of Creation before I can move on.”

“True, I will allow that.”

“And My Lord, I am struggling to cross the bridge that takes me to the other side. I fear that I am clinging to Moses because it is dark and I can’t see the road ahead.”

“Now you are being honest with yourself. Keep writing. But remember My command, that this is your last chance to write of Moses. Leave the man in peace!”

“Until I see him on Tabor?!” I dared to blurt out.

With that my Lord faded into silence, and I returned with renewed enthusiasm and determination to leave Moses to his rest.

As vital as trees and air and food are to human existence, through the Law of Moses, the same Creator provided the vehicle within which mankind may make a safe journey on this glorious planet. The Law complements nature.

No sooner did God grant freedom from slavery and oppression to His people, than did He constrain them with His guidelines. Their voluntary yielding to His will would be rewarded with protection and abundance. God did not demand love, He only demanded respect which He richly deserved after all He had done for Israel by showing His providence and His ability to manipulate nature itself for their sake.

The legal structure that Moses handed to Israel identified these people as unique in their lawfulness. The Law separated Israel from the Hittites and Jebusites, and all the other peoples who God allowed to exist, but who never knew Him. Passion and pleasure drove most men from birth to death, whereas humility, self control, and reason rendered Israel the people of God. 

Dear reader, please be patient with me. Can you see that it was only to Israel through Moses that God told mankind the story of Creation, and the Flood, and about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? That history has spread to all four corners of the earth. These key patriarchs would have dissolved into obscurity as everyone else has, except their part was so fundamental to God’s plan to eradicate death that it had to be recorded and preserved. 

From time to time a prophet arose through whom God communicated briefly to the people, but never like Moses did. Sometimes the prophets were false and relayed messages that were generated by their own thoughts and feelings. But the Law from God through Moses and the commemoration of Passover all formed a rock-hard solid foundation upon which temples and generations of men would come and go, but true life would exist forever.

“Okay Lord, I am ready to move on. Where shall we go?”

ALIVE: Chapter 75, The Death of Moses

To whom much is given, much is required. Most people would not even notice the difference between saying to the rock, ‘Bring forth water!’ and saying, ‘Shall we bring water out of this rock for you rebels?’

These fateful words of great Moses flashed through Christ’s mind when He said, “Therefore, you are to be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

Perambula was shocked. “My Lord, wise and wonderful, for such a small infraction, your servant Moses who has travailed with your stiff-necked people for so many years and through rivers and drought, and now you sentence this old man to forty years of marching through the wilderness without ever entering the Promise Land. How can this be my Lord?!”

God flashed an angry look at Perambula who shriveled into a droplet of mist.

Time. The revolution of the earth around the sun. Night and day. Around and around we go. Asleep and awake and asleep again in a dizzying cycle from which we would eventually collapse with nausea if not for the life force that propels us forward to create the illusion of a spiral. Infancy to decrepitude, birth to death, dust to dust, circles of life filled with drama like a heap of pennies.

Humanity fills pristine air with good and evil, humility and hubris, peace and war, anger and tears shooting out from hearts like sprays of arrows. Living coins so dense with life that they pretend to exist outside of time. Humble time hides itself in disgust at loud brash and egotistical drama. Then it stealthily grabs each person one by one; the last breath of air, the very last heartbeat; dead. Forever. To exist as spirit in timelessness.

One day Aaron died.

The brother, the mouthpiece of Moses, stopped breathing air. Two strong men planted his body deep in the earth and marked the hidden place of it with a stone. After decades of walking He reached Sheol instead of the Promise Land and discovered an unexpected world. The waiting room of the dead. Like the millions before him Aaron’s life landed in extreme foreign territory no longer to speak; no longer to walk. No need for either milk or honey. What Aaron experienced is a secret. His son Eleazar replaced him on top of the earth as chief priest.  Brother Moses wept.

Twenty-three generations after God had promised Abraham that his family would be nomads no more, in a land rich with cows and busy bumble bees, and four decades after holy Passover night, when the angel of death passed over doorways painted with the blood of lambs to barge through naked doors to grab first-born sons. When Pharaoh’s grief loosened his tight fisted grip on enslaved Israel the twelve tribes finally reached Moab, the gateway to the Promise Land. Exactly forty years after they insulted God and themselves with fear, Israel returned from their futile forty year round trip.

Those men and women died who infected each other with the disease of cynicism, who had forgotten the many miracles God performed for them for the sole purpose of revealing Himself to them, who were so bereft of faith that they were more afraid of men than of their Creator and Judge.

Joshua and Caleb remained alive to see the land again and with God’s help to take it after forty-years of walking while waiting for the unbelievers to die, which they did, one by one. Off to timeless Sheol.

At Moab Moses knew that the time had come for him to die too. To be buried outside the Promise Land. Humble Moses accepted his punishment graciously. Like the father of this nation he was, before leaving the sons of Jacob Moses reminded them of the commandments and the law, and he blessed each tribe with instructions and blessings, leaving behind him an outpouring of holy wisdom in one last effort to transform the nation of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob into children of God.

Finally, Moses gathered Israel and said loudly for everyone to hear without stutter, “I am now 120 years old. I am no longer able to get about and the Lord has told me that I shall not cross the Jordan. The Lord Himself will cross over before you. He will destroy the nations before you, and you shall displace them. Joshua will also cross over before you, as the Lord promised. Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail or forsake you.”

Then  Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: “Be strong and bold, for you are the one who will go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their ancestors to give them; and you will put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you: He will be with you; He will not fail or forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed.

Take to heart all the words that I am giving in witness against you today; give them as a command to your children, so that they may diligently observe all the words of this law. This is no trifling matter for you, but rather your very life; through obedience to the law you may live long in the land that you are crossing over the Jordan to possess.”

He paused and in his heart Moses heard the Lord speak to him with love and compassion, “Ascend the mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo; across from Jericho, and behold the land of Canaan which I am giving to the Israelites for a possession; you shall die on this mountain that you shall ascend and shall be gathered to your kin, as your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his kin; because both of you broke faith with Me among the Israelites at the waters of Meribah-kadesh in the wilderness of Zin by failing to maintain My holiness among the Israelites. Although you may view the land from a distance, you shall not enter it-the land that I am giving to the Israelites.”

The people waited patiently and with great respect for Moses to come out of his trance.

When he did, Moses gave his final blessing to them  (Deuteronomy 33) and then walked away from them alone. The crowd watched him go. No one followed him as old Moses, slowly and with a limp walked and walked away leaning on his staff. The giant that had been Moses faded in their sight; disappearing into the horizon on the plains of Moab.

Finally he reached Mount Nebo which is opposite Jericho, and the old man looked up, took a deep breath and began his last hike. Moses’ life flashed before him as he climbed one careful step at a time. Memories of the many hikes up Mt. Sinai crossed his mind. Slowly, breathing hard, stopping often to rest Moses felt thoroughly immersed in life. The life of his body, the breath of it, the tired muscles of it, the thirst and hunger of it. He drank in giant gulps of the feeling of the air passing over his sweat drenched wrinkled skin. His eyes like twin gluttons wanted to see and study the colors, the textures of every rock and tree and leaf, every insect that surrounded him on this last climb. Moses filled himself with the matter of life. No longer was anyone dependent on him. No one needed his judgment or his defense. He was free. He looked forward to being gathered to his people, Mariam and Aaron for he missed them terribly these last months and years.  Perambula and Gracefeld invisibly helped the old man climb, protecting him from falling, patiently guiding elder Moses up the mountain via the shortest path lest he faint or lose his way.

As the sun was about to set, in the dim dusk of evening Moses finally reached the summit. Perambula and Gracefeld felt great relief as the journey was much more difficult for the angels than for the old man they were helping. During all the hours of climbing Moses thought he would never reach the summit, and that he never wanted to for he was afraid of what he imagined to be the dark emptiness of death.

At the summit the Lord spoke to Moses again. He showed him the whole land. Moses gazed around him. He saw the fields beneath him, fields he would never walk through, and he beheld the mountains in the distance and the deep purple sky overhead. Gradually after taking in the site of the Promise Land, the land his ancestors yearned to see, Moses gave up his spirit. His body went limp and he breathed no more. The baby in the basket that reminded Perambula of Noah being saved by the ark died after 120 years.

After experiencing over a million sunrises Moses plunged into the depths of Sheol where Aaron and Miriam and their parents and their aunts and uncles greeted him. They walked him into his new existence.

Never since, has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt and in the sight of all Israel.

No man alive saw and knew the Creator of heaven and earth as did Moses. No one.

The baby in the basket escaped death to become the son of Pharaoh and a servant of God. Moses was the most ALIVE man that ever lived, until Christmas Day.


ALIVE: Chapter 74: About Failure

Israel continued to walk and talk and walk some more as if the Promise Land was a million miles away when in reality they were walking away from it.

In His frustration with this pack of ungrateful people, as faithless as Eve as weak as Adam, God’s fury subdued by the intercession of Moses, did not go unsatisfied. Moses and Aaron as they walked could not shake the chilling memory of God’s wrath when He said to them, “I will do the very things I heard the faithless fearful people say: their dead bodies shall fall in this very wilderness; and all the people from twenty years old and upward who have complained against Me, not one of them shall come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb and Joshua. But your little ones, who you said would become booty, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that their parents despised. But as for them, their dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. And their children shall be shepherds in the wilderness for forty years, and shall suffer for their parent’s faithlessness, until the last of their dead bodies lies in the wilderness. According to the number of days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day a year, you shall all bear out your iniquity, forty years, and you shall know My displeasure.”

The memory of this haunted Moses who was both as disgusted with the people and as he was grieved by the sentence of forty years of this miserable trek. The notion that he was leading most of these people to their death was like a millstone hung around his neck as he walked. Moses suffered for the iniquity of the people Israel. How he suffered. Every painful step was a reminder of the wastefulness of disobedience and faithlessness, none of which was his own doing.

To turn the face of Moses forward God proceeded to dispense more and more rules of conduct and of worship and punishments with increasing specificity. God even gave Moses rules to follow “when they enter the Promise Land” as if he would remember.

One Sabbath day when the Israelites were camped, a man was spotted gathering sticks. Those who found him brought him to Moses and Aaron who put him in custody because it was not clear what should be done to him.

Moses inquired of the Lord Who replied, “The man should be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him outside the camp.”

Hearing the shocking sentence, Moses dispatched Korah and Dothan to tie up the man’s hands and feet with a heavy rope and to drag the convict away from the camp. The rest of the congregation solemnly followed gathering stones large a small along the way.

“This is far enough.” said Dothan and dropped the man who fell to the ground in a fetal position.

For every man and child surrounding him one or two stones was obediently hurled at the wretch who dared to gather sticks on the sabbath in defiance of the command to keep the Sabbath holy. Being stoned is a slow and painful way to die. More than an hour went by before it was certain that he breathed no more. His family wailed. When it was over, his father and brothers carried the body of their beloved to a soft rootless spot in the wilderness and buried it there as deep into the earth as they could manage with the tools they had, their grief subdued by hard labor.

The next morning Moses told the numb people, who killed their own tribesman on behalf of the God they often complain about, to pack up camp and start walking again. There was to be no period of mourning; they needed to remove themselves as far and as fast as they could from that unclean dead man. Moses was the first to be ready and took the lead allowing the thousands of others to catch up as they needed time to pack. 

As he walk Moses wondered, if not Canaan then where were they to go? Where was the Promise Land that flowed with milk and honey, and had weak people, rather than strong healthy people to displace? Where would they walk to for forty years that would take them back to the place they were leaving?

Even Caleb’s sister Hannah’s joyfulness slowly submerged into the malaise of movement as the bane of her existence. Eating manna, drinking water, and walking was all they could do. After the first year of this circular occupation day after day there was neither memory of the past nor hope for the future. The sons and daughters of Jacob became bonafide nomads.

Dramas popped up from time to time. One occurred when three men wanted to displace Moses and Aaron as the leaders.  God opened the earth which consumed these men and their families and all of their possessions sending them all to Hades to suffer for their hubris.

Another time, there was a plague in which thousands of people died. Some of the survivors wished death would free them from the bondage of their nomadic existence.

Miriam died at Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin. Aaron mourned her, as did Moses. They buried their sister’s frail white body deep in the earth and marked the place where she lay with stones. Upon her death, many shared the thought that they would still be eating onions by the Nile had Miriam not been the savior of Moses when he should have been killed by Pharaoh along with their own baby brothers. Instead they seemed to be in constant search for water.

Water, the giver and sustainer of life. Water in the desert wilderness was more precious than gold. God knew that they needed water. He could have made it rain every day, just as He rained manna and quail for them to eat. But He did not.

The people only had to ask, to pray for water. But they did not. Instead they complained and demanded it, as if Moses was their third rate travel guide. Many of the sons of Israel growled that they would start a party to return to Egypt.

For what felt like the hundredth time, Moses and Aaron went to the tent of meeting to ask God to provide water for the people. With tolerance and patience abounding, Moses and Aaron fell on their faces and as hoped, the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord spoke to Moses saying “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water. Thus you shall provide drink for the congregation and for their livestock.”

Moses went over to the wall of the tent and took the staff with which he struck the Nile. Then Moses and Aaron repeatedly glorified and gave thanks to the Lord as the luminous cloud of glory vanished from their midst in the tent of meeting.

Perhaps for the first time since that awesome morning when Israel  emerged from the Red Sea, Moses was fed up with the people and their complaints. 

Caleb and Hannah were among a small group milling around the entrance to the tent of meeting. Like infant birds in the nest waiting helplessly for a parent to bring them worms, these thirsty people waited for Moses and Aaron to give them water.

Moses emerged from the tent with his powerful staff clenched in his fist looking angrier than they had ever seen him. “People, follow me.” He bellowed to assemble everyone. He then hurriedly walked over to a big grey bolder and waited for Israel to catch up.

Aaron followed Moses feeling uncomfortable. He was reminded of how angry Moses was when he returned from Mt. Sinai to find them worshipping the golden calf that they had made. Only this time Moses was more wrapped up in himself, and uncharacteristically disconnected from God. Aaron could not shake a strange and awful feeling that something was very different and very wrong. 

As Moses waited for everyone to assemble he surveyed the crowd that seemed to be sucking the life out of him clutching the staff harder and harder until his fingernails pierced his own skin.

When the thirsty congregation was fully assembled and quieted all looking to Moses for relief he bellowed, “Listen you rebels, shall we bring water out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff; water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their livestock drank and drank to their hearts content.

Gracefeld and Perambula looked wide-eyed at Moses in near disbelief, and then over to God and then to each other. As water rained on the parched people a deep crack had formed between Moses and the Lord. A fissure that could not be ignored.

Aaron thought to himself, ‘That is not what God told him to say.’ For even in his relative dullness of spirit Aaron knew that this time was different from the other time Moses struck the rock at Horeb to get water. Both incidents were said to be at Meribah, but last time Moses perceived that the sons of Israel tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” This time Moses took credit for producing the water. That was wrong. It was inaccurate and it was wrong. Aaron was concerned.

The angels heard God admonish Moses very loud and clear. Aaron heard it too in his own heart. God said to the brothers, “Because you did not trust in Me, to show My holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” At the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord for water, and by which He planned to show His holiness, Moses’ in his frustration took the credit. 

For to the Lord, more precious and more critical than water to a thirsty man is knowledge of His holiness. For the people it was water, for God, the withholding and the giving of water was to be more proof of His providence, of His holiness, of His existence.

This was the crime of Moses, to attempt to take from God his holiness, the credit due Him alone for producing water from the rock. The humility that God loved about Moses devolved.

Let it be understood by this event that God has been known to withhold a need, a great need that He can easily provide, to demonstrate His holiness at the right time and in the right way. This is what it means to trust IN Him.

Nevertheless, the rock gushed forth water for all the people and all their livestock to drink. And they all rushed over to the geyser to grab as much of the watery gold as they could, letting it rain on them with open mouths facing up drinking it and feeling its cool wetness on their faces and on their heads. It was sublime. The people pushed and shoved to demand their turns at the cool water. Greed like the antithesis of life sustaining water filled their hard hearts even as the cool water saturated their dehydrated bodies.

Meanwhile, the Lord was angry. Angrier than He had ever been with Moses, the words echoed in the minds of Moses and Aaron for days and days, “Because you did not trust in Me, to show My holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring the assembly into the land I have given them.”

The effect of this decision was not felt by anyone, but Moses kept it in his heart as he continued to walk and walk and walk, as days and weeks and months and years passed step by step. Moses walked knowing that he was walking long enough for the faithless to die, and that in the end, he would die too before ever seeing the Promise Land. Moses kept this sin in his heart for forty years. No sacrificial lamb would take it from him. Ultimately he would be the one to die with this heavy burden. Like an iron ball and chain tied to his leg Moses walked for forty years in a circle away from and back to the Promise Land of Canaan.

​ALIVE: Chapter 73, Spying out the Land

Hannah daughter of Malach of Judah was young and lovely with eyes as blue as the afternoon sky on a clear day, and long wavy chestnut hair that danced like a halo around her as she moved. More beautiful still was the joy that saturated Hannah’s heart and generated the smile that perpetually lifted the corners of her full lips up to her sparkling eyes. Hannah created a world around her that was filled with hope and enthusiastic anticipation of more and more reasons to be glad. She was blind to evil. Goodness hidden deep within hardships dared to creep out to reveal itself only to Hannah whom she often greeted with a silent knowing calm. To the women around her complaining of sore feet, and parched lips Hannah replied, “We must be close to the Promise Land! I feel it near. I think we will soon reach our new home! Indeed it must be right on the other side of that hill!”

Her friend Milcah shrugged her shoulders and said, “Hannah, that is not a hill; it is a mountain. I will be happy when I see the Promise Land up close. For now come with me to gather manna.”

“I can’t. I must return to Caleb to tell him that Moses wants to see him.” With that she turned and hurriedly went in the direction her heart told her to go to find her brother.

Caleb was busy splitting wood for the evening fire when he saw his beautiful sister approach hurriedly. “Caleb, stop what you are doing, Moses wants you. Go quickly.”

Hannah followed her brother to find out what Moses wanted of him.

Young Caleb spotted the elder Moses entering the tent of meeting and quickly caught up to follow Moses into the big tent where he saw his friend Hosea and ten other men.  Hannah stopped at the entrance flap to listen in. Men were chatting with each other, voices over voices made it difficult for Hannah to discern what anyone was saying. Then she heard Moses loud and clear say, “Okay, everyone is here. Quiet! I have an announcement to make. We have arrived! The Promise Land is near! The land of Canaan will soon be ours for our families. We can build our homes of bricks, and plant trees, orange trees! Fields of flowers will give us honey. Our cattle will have enough grass to produce plenty of milk to drink.”

Hannah heard guttural manly sounds of approval in response to the exciting news of the near end of the journey. Passover night, and crossing the Red Sea were a distant memory. Hunger and dust and the longest parade made men feel as if they were captives of a nightmare.

Moses went on, “From this Wilderness of Paran I want you to spy out the land from Zin at that mountain range over there to the west, (said Moses pointing with his finger as if seeing the mountain through the canvas tent) to Rahab, that mountain range to the east of Zin. Reconnoiter all of Canaan; it will be ours. We will ultimately remove the inhabitants to occupy the land that our God is giving us. Go and return to tell us what you have found. Now prepare for the journey. You will leave at dawn tomorrow. God be with you. Any questions?”

“What do we do if we encounter an enemy? Do we fight?” asked Hosea son of Nun.

Moses replied, “What’s your name? Who are you?”

“I am Hosea of Ephraim.”

“Well, you look like you should be called Joshua.” said Moses with authority. “Joshua, you will have no need for fighting. This is merely a spying expedition. All of you must avoid being seen. The Lord will make your path straight. Bring no weapons, but the shield of faith. Now go. Rest up for you will depart at dawn.”

Hannah ran away from the tent so as not to be seen eavesdropping. She was thrilled at the prospect that her brother Caleb would represent Judah to be among the first to see the land that flows with milk and honey. She remembered her mother telling her stories when she was a child about the Promise Land, promised to Father Abraham. How often she would return in her mind to find freedom and refreshment there when she was a slave.

Hannah ran directly to her tent to wait for Caleb. When he entered she jumped up and went over to give him a big hug. “Oh Caleb!”she ejaculated. “I am so happy for you!”

Caleb smiled because he had sensed that she was spying on the men who were being sent to spy. “You know Hannah, I don’t know what is better, to finally reach the end of this trek with all of these complaining people, or to land in a place of our very own far from Pharaoh.”

“You know Caleb, when you think of it, you will soon see with your very own eyes the land that was promised to Abraham centuries ago! What a long journey indeed. The Promise Land has been waiting for us since before Jacob worked for Rachel’s hand in marriage, before Joseph entered Egypt. The Promise Land is real and soon you will see it, my brother! But now you must rest. I will be quiet. Go to sleep.”

Caleb hugged his beloved sister and gave her a kiss on her forehead and then obediently walked over to his bedroll to sleep.

From the first days after he left, Hannah waited patiently but enthusiastically for Caleb to return. She tried to imagine where he was and what the Promise Land looked like. After a week or two many of the others worried that the men had been captured or that wild animals had overtaken them. Hannah imagined that the men were struck by the beauty of the land and couldn’t tear themselves from it to return to the squalor of this camp in Paran.

Days turned into endless weeks of monotony gathering manna every morning and quail in the evening. Sleeping and eating, going nowhere slowly frustrated even the children as they waited for the spying party to return, not knowing if they ever would come back.

Late one particularly hot and dry afternoon on the fortieth day, when most people had given up and just wanted to start a search party the band of men was spotted on the horizon. Children ran up to greet them. Wives wondered what their menfolk ate while they were gone so long.

Moses stood like a flag waving in the breeze waiting for their arrival. When they approached him Moses said, “Come to the tent of meeting to give me your reports.” The men followed Moses to the tent. Aaron in all his privilege joined them to be among the first to hear.

Hannah was at the outskirts of a gaggle of women who also followed the men and stopped at the entrance to listen in.

“The land is indeed rich and beautiful,” reported Azariah from Dan “but well fortified and the people are too strong for us.”

Caleb contradicted Azariah saying, “But brothers, if the Lord is with us I am certain we could prevail; let’s go back and look again.”

At that suggestion a chorus of NOs and grunts ensued.

Moses was furious at their report and in frustration ended the meeting abruptly.  “Leave me!” he shouted in distress.

The men filed out of the tent in ones and twos to be greeted by the crowd outside. Some men stopped to talk, others plowed through the crowd to go to their own tents to find their wives and to rest.

Once the bad report was widely known the Israelites were generally upset. They wailed and cried, after all that walking and waiting, to receive such bad news was devastating. It was as if spring was followed by a return to the death of winter instead of summer harvest.

Murmuring and complaints, and some weeping salted Israel with bitter disappointment. The most emotional women wailed out loud.

“We have had enough of this!” shouted Barak over the din of disappointment. “Who will lead us back to Egypt.” Barak looked around for such a leader while those men who agreed with the idea contemplated how to cross the Red Sea again. Returning to Egypt would not be so easy.

Caleb, hearing this knee-jerk reaction to the overly cynical report of foolish and faithless men responded loudly to be heard over the din of doubters, “Surely people! If the Lord who opened the Red Sea for us, who gives us manna every day, who brings up water from rocks, surely our God can give us victory over the Canaanites. Why oh why do you doubt Him? Why are you so weak?!”

The crowd quieted down to hear Caleb. Then Joshua (Hosea) added, “Indeed this Promise Land is exceedingly good land! I beg of you not to rebel against the Lord, and not to fear the people of the land, for they will be no more than bread for us when their protection is removed from them.”

Hearing that, the congregation threatened to stone Caleb and Joshua who turned in disgust and together boldly walked to Caleb’s tent where Hannah had prepared manna the way Caleb liked it best. “Hello Hosea, I mean Joshua! Come in! She said cheerfully when the men entered her tent. “I am so proud of you Caleb. Now tell me all about what you saw! How thrilling!”

“Sister, it was truly amazing. I saw cattle grazing in fields of lush green grass where hundreds of lambs were frolicking. Real houses! What we saw was infinitely better than what we left behind in Egypt.”

Joshua nodded and smiled as the memories erupted from the deep recesses of his mind as if what he saw was originally born in the imagination of Father Abraham and carried through the generations to pop up like spring crocuses in Joshua.

Meanwhile, Moses remained alone in the tent of meeting waiting for the Lord to reappear, which He did in all His Godly glory.

The Lord cried to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? I will strike them with pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make you, Moses, a nation greater than they.”

Moses rebutted, “Then the Egyptians will hear that the people are all destroyed and they will tell the inhabitants of the land that the Lord of Israel was not able to bring these people into the land that He swore to give them. Remember Lord when you said that You are slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children to the third, fourth, and fifth generation?”

Perambula, listening to this exchange between God and Moses, was once again astounded at how Moses could keep God from acting on His anger with Israel. “Do these people have any idea of how Moses saved them from the wrath of God over and over again?!” exclaimed the angel.

“Absolutely not!” replied Gracefeld. “Their dullness of mind and spirit are precisely why they frustrate the Lord so much.”

“But why does Moses care?” asked Perambula.

“I can’t tell you for sure, but I suspect that Moses is simply a compassionate man; do you remember how he started on this road by killing the Egyptian in defense of a Jew?” said Gracefeld.

“Maybe he simply wants to defend God’s reputation among the people. That’s how he keeps convincing God to relent.” answered Perambula. “Shhh here He comes”

Gracefeld grinned. “Perambula, you know as well as I do that God heard everything we said.

However, God was too immersed in His exchange with Moses about the fate of the Israelites and their reaction to the great and awesome gift of the long awaited Promise Land to care what His angels were babbling about. Nor did God care at that moment whether this generation of Jacob entered the Promise Land or not. After all, He had waited for centuries and He could wait even longer. As the Master of Time, God could wait.

But Moses’s argument was convincing. It was important for God to be slow to anger, and to be respected which required that He be consistent. “Fine!” the Lord replied to Moses, “but none of those people, except Caleb, for his faith, will enter the Promise Land  to possess it! None, do you hear?! I will have them walk for another forty years, enough time for this faithless generation, for whom I did so much, who I saved on Passover night, to die out. I will allow only their children to inherit the Promise Land. And that is my final decision Moses! Now off you go. Tell them.”

Moses, feeling relief and sorrow in equal measure, sent young boys out to announce a meeting in the great tent. God had found a way for His reputation to be saved while still punishing the faithless.

Hearing the bad news, the people mourned and changed their minds and said that they would go into the Promise Land and occupy it.

“You fools!” said Moses. “Do you still not understand the power of our Lord? He said that you may NOT enter now. His protection will not be with you. If you go now the Amelikites and the Canaanites will destroy you!”

The hard hearted people decided to go anyway, because they felt remorse and because they wanted more to see the Promise Land than they wanted to respect God.

Perambula and Gracefeld were in shock over the stubbornness of these people. They had followed them all this time, and had witnessed much doubt and grumbling. But this decision to face the strong people they had feared, without the protection of God, was clearly the most insane decision yet. “Perhaps the sun has penetrated their minds and warped them.” said Perambula in jest.

Days later, Perambula and Gracefeld hovered over to watch the bloody scene of weak Israel being pummeled by the Canaanites and the Amelikites.

“Well,” said Gracefeld when it was all over. “At at least that’s some faithless people done away with who will never inherit the blessing of Abraham.”

Perambula smiled and nodded in agreement and then said, “If you don’t have faith that God’s promise is reliable, then you may as well dig a deep hole in this precious earth, climb in and go to sleep forever. Because you are less than a mustard seed. You are less than nourishing manure. You are only matter. Useless matter, rubbish waiting for the burn so you don’t take up room on the earth.”

Gracefeld replied, “Perambula, you sound so human all of a sudden! What has come over you?”

Perambula suddenly feeling particularly human added, “But, if you only want the Promise to be true, then you must act on it. You must demonstrate to the ounce of your doubting self that you believe. Don’t look at any the obstacles the enemy of man and God will set before you to dissuade you, to turn you into rubbish.

Not all of your wishes are promises to be sure. But when you receive a Promise, you will know the difference. A Promise comes from outside yourself. It is a ray of light, impossible to catch but luminous and revealing. Let the Promise enter your heart and hold it fast. Be happy and be patient. Sometimes it will be manifest in a bold miraculous way, and sometimes the appearance of the Promise will happen so gradually that you didn’t even noticed until years later that it came true. When you realize it, all you can do is smile and feel the warmth of joy generated by your heart.”

“Who are you talking to?” asked Gracefeld looking around.

“I am talking to the reader silly! Now let’s go for a ride. I’ll race you to that cumulus cloud!”

Before Gracefeld could ask which one, Perambula was off like a rocket. Gracefeld followed Perambula just for the fun of it.

Foolish Jealousy

Perambula and Gracefeld obediently returned to earth silently swooping through the air, invisible, inconceivable by either man or bird. It was very easy to spot Israel, that giant mobile village. The angels swooped down in tandem and honed in on Miriam and Aaron who were sitting on the floor of her tent sipping tea with sweet precious honey and gossiping.


“This baby brother of ours is really something else, isn’t he?!” started Miriam. “I often wonder what would have happened if I never suggested that pharaoh’s daughter take him as her own. We probably would be in our cozy homes eating baklava right now, instead of starving in this dusty desert.”


“Don’t be ridiculous Miriam.”


“Why did he married that Cushite woman anyway? Aren’t there enough lovely ladies in our tribe to satisfy his carnal desires? Humph.  A foreigner. How could God condone that and still speak to him?” snapped Mariam to add a cup more reason to the deconstruction of her unusual brother. “God picked you Aaron to be the mouthpiece of Moses. Why does He need Moses at all? You, and perhaps me, together we could just as easily receive messages from God to relay to the people, clearly and without that irritating stutter of his.”


“I don’t know why He speaks to Moses Miriam, but you’re right. I have heard God speak just as clearly as Moses has. He never hid His voice from me. If I am chosen to speak to the people, why do we need the middle man? I don’t know what makes Moses so important. This reminds me of the days of our youth, when I was a slave receiving lashes on my young back and Moses was eating grapes by the pool in the palace.  There was nothing I could do about the unfairness of it all. Shhhh. Do I hear someone coming. It could be Moses.”


Moses approached the tent and called, “Miriam, Aaron! Are you in there? What are you doing?”


“Yes, here we are.” replied Aaron. Come in.”


When Moses opened the flap and was about to enter, Miriam said, “Do you want some tea Moses? I am using a little of my honey today,”


“What are we celebrating?”


“Nothing, I am just in an indulgent mood. Have some, I’m also in a generous mood.” Miriam ungracefully leveraged herself up from the floor to fetch her brother some tea.


Gracefeld and Perambula listened to this conversation in awe.


Perambula, wide eyed as usual said, “How could these siblings be so mean and so wrong. It’s as if they are taking a sliver of reality and fabricating a whole evil fantasy from it.”


Gracefeld replied cynically. “This is what you get with humans Perambula. I don’t know why God bothers with them at all. Their inclination is only for their own egos. As if the whole world should be designed to please each person according to his or her own desires and pleasure.  No sense even thinking about how distasteful these people can be. We have our orders.”


“Not all people;” added Perambula, “the man Moses is very humble, more so than any man on the face of the earth. I like him. Not everyone is so bad. But I wonder how God expects us to put an end to this?”


“Since you can hear Me Aaron, and you Miriam; listen carefully!” bellowed God. To the angels He said, “make me a pillar of cloud and place it at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” Gracefeld and Perambula went right to work.


“What was that!”exclaimed Miriam, shocked that God spoke, the shock that thoroughly displaced her earlier bitter musings. 


“Go to the tent of meeting. I have something to say to you three.”


Moses who had not yet sat down followed the voice of the Lord without hesitation. Miriam, who was standing at her firebox getting ready to boil water froze in fear. Aaron slowly lifted himself from the floor. He went over to Miriam and clutched her forearm to guide his frozen old sister out of her tent and over to the tent of meeting which had been erected in isolation far off in the field.


As the siblings made their way to the tent of meeting they tried to look inconspicuous while passing children playing, women washing and men repairing, many of whom looked up to greet them without response.


Moses was the first to enter the large empty tent followed by jittery Aaron, then Miriam. They stood in dark cool silence for several moments while Perambula and Gracefeld were conjuring up the pillar of cloud. God waited patiently.


Finally the cloud was ready and God entered it and caused it to move in a rotating fashion. The people all looked up from their activities to see the cloud slowly make its way over to the big tent. There was murmuring and there was silence all mixed together creating a reverent hum. No one dared follow the cloud, but instead the people either sat and stared or forced themselves to return to what they had been doing.


When the God-filled pillar of cloud arrived, the sound of God’s voice was heard by all, “Aaron and Miriam, come forward!” He said, “Hear my words:  When there are prophets among you, I the Lord make myself known to them in visions; I speak to them in dreams. Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house. With him I speak face to face-clearly, not in riddles; and he beholds My form. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”


Moses gazed at his siblings with deep sorrow at this news of their disdain for him. He suddenly felt abandoned disconnected from them as if threads that had once connected them were frayed and split. Nevertheless he harbored these feelings in a deep state of semi consciousness.


That was all the Lord had to say. The pillar of cloud gradually dissipated into the unholy air. God was angry. He was angrier than He had been. For Miriam and Aaron insulted not just Moses, but dared to criticize Him, their Lord and God. Their sentiments reflected the height of hubris. They didn’t deserve to live, in fact that kind of talk was not life, it was anti-life. It was destruction of life, annihilation of the air. God could not think of an animal that would treat Him in such a disrespectful manner. But God doesn’t brood. He just departed leaving behind Miriam who had suddenly became leprous, as  white as snow.


Aaron looked at his freakish sister in shock, turned to Moses and said, “Oh my Lord, do not punish us for a sin that we so foolishly committed.”


Miriam was crying uncontrollably by then, her fear overwhelmed by guilt and shame. She fell to the ground and covered her face crying harder and harder with thoughts of what would become of her life. The shame, the isolation, the pain, and death.


Moses, in empathy looked up into the heavens and said to the Lord, “Please heal her. If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear the shame for seven days. Let her be shut out of the camp for seven days, and after that be brought in again.”


Without reply, but in confidence that his request was granted, Moses lead Miriam far away from the camp, carrying supplies that she would need to survive alone in the wilderness.


The people they passed were in shock at the sight of Miriam all white and oozy. One by one, people asked Aaron what had happened. Aaron was not ready to talk about it.


Miriam was shut out of the camp for seven days, isolated, pensive, and in great pain while everyone else waited patiently and pensively before continuing on the journey.


Gracefeld and Perambula were once more surprised that God could be so easy persuaded by Moses’ plea on behalf of the ignorant people. Perambula said, “Maybe God appreciates his compassion and that’s another reason why Moses is so special.”


“True. Not being human, God has no idea what these beings have to contend with all the forces thrown at them by the evil one, and by their own weakness.”


“I really like that God allows Moses to influence Him.” said Perambula.


“Me too.”


“Would you angels please stop chattering and come here!”




72 leper.JPG

ALIVE, Chapter 70 Ahhhh Torah!

Perambula and Gracefeld were hovering in the heavens on a perfectly beautiful day, which is common since there is no nighttime there at all, but let’s pretend. It was their time off as Israel was busy being scared out of their wits by the smoky mountain and the thunderous trumpeting bellows from God which He did Himself without the assistance of Gracefeld’s skill in creating sound effects.

“Do you know what the Lord is going to tell them to do?” asked Perambula.

“Yes, we discussed it.” replied Gracefeld in the angel’s most condescending tone.

Ignoring the slightly rancid whiff of arrogance, Perambula said, “Well, what? After all, so many of them are already old and set in their ways. What can the Lord expect?”

“My dear naive Perambula, these souls are mere seeds. The Lord will treat them as the infants they are, but more importantly He speaks to every man to be born from now to Kingdom Come.” replied Gracefeld.

“Kingdom come?” asked Perambula.

“Don’t ask. It’s too soon to explain it to you. Just know that these instructions will illuminate and define the path to immortality.”

“Will they know that?”

“The sages will. Some will thrive on the guidance, others will rebel against it, still others will be challenged by it and others will feel threatened by these simple, albeit obvious rules. Some will see freedom through the Commandments, others will see constraints.”

“Can’t the Lord of all just make sure everyone understands the purpose and value of these Laws?”

“NO, NO, NO” retorted Gracefeld getting impatient with Perambula’s simplicity.

“Okay, you don’t have to snap at me. I was just asking a question.” replied wincing Perambula. “Let’s get back to work, I don’t want to miss this.”

Aaron and Moses carefully climbed Mt. Sinai together in silence, dodging rocks to avoid tripping and falling. Each old man was thinking his own thoughts about what to expect, and about the difficulty of the climb. Some parts were so steep that it was hard to catch one’s breath. Aaron stayed behind Moses. The intense dry heat made it even harder to climb. God waited and watched patiently as the exhausted elderly brothers drew near.

The people stood in their pack patiently below, while Moses and Aaron approached the thick darkness, not daring to go beyond the limit set for them. Some not daring to look up as the old men made their way to God, until the two dissolved into tiny specks. There was murmuring below, but fear kept most of the people, except the oblivious children, from becoming boisterous.

Hours passed before the elderly brothers reached the spot where they could receive the commands of God. Like receiving instruction on how to breath, or how to make your heart beat, or how to digest your food and sort the elements of it into nutrients to send to the bloodstream, so did Moses, with Aaron as the witness, receive from God almighty instructions on how to exist, and coexist in a world constantly threatened by evil.

Dear reader, imagine a factory where the maker and the made interact. So fantastic and magnificent was this moment, the moment wrapped in time, yet outside of time so as to challenge every flesh-wrapped soul that ever graces our earth. To be told, like an ancient secret, the Will of God, for the very first time, is to hear the echo of “Let there be light.”

Thousands of angel eyes and angels ears witnessed this moment and were in awe that their God cared so much about   humankind that He would not give up, but time and time again interact with this divine animal to form it, to mould it, to teach it. Why, to what end all this effort? A blazing bonfire from which only a candle here and there will be lit.

Aaron stood at a distance away, frightened to the point of numbness. While Moses faced the sound of God, afraid but reverent. Moses stood straight and tall, like an ancient soldier. The babe of a slave who had grown up with mighty Pharaoh as his stepfather was fully prepared to be fathered by God. In fact Moses was visited with a sense of nostalgia every time he approached the Lord.

Moses heard clearly God say:

  1. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
  2. I am a jealous God, you shall not make for yourself an idol, that you would bow down and worship. I will punish to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, but show love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commands.
  3. Do not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.
  4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy. The seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. The Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.
  5. Honor your father and your mother so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord is giving you.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, or wife, or slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

The Lord God bellowed these instructions consecutively without hesitating between them. Moses and Aaron could hardly remember them all but went from listening to one and the next without the opportunity to pause and reflect. The ones that pierced each brother’s soul the most were those that he felt most guilty of.

Silence followed the admonition to be grateful for what one has and to look neither to the left nor to the right with envy, something that was so unlikely for these nomads that the mention of it was absurd. This last rule relieved Aaron who was glad of his innocence on this one point.

For the giver of the Law, that which is wrong is illegal. It is a false measure, it is a broken clock, worthless, and destructive. It is poison. To disobey, which resulted in death and curses to Adam, likewise means the death of sin to his seed. With his disobedience Adam was banished from utopia, and with disobedience his seed is unable to return.

“Is that all, my Lord,” asked Moses to break the silence.

“That’s enough for now. Go and tell my people these basic precepts. There will be more. Hurry down this mountain for the sun will be setting soon, and I won’t delay that for you. Go! But Moses...”

“Yes, my Lord?!”

“Return without Aaron and I will write this down for you.”

Moses and Aaron were quite relieved to hear that as they bowed and departed down the steep mountain in the sunset as quickly as their stiff legs could take them.

While the two men carefully made their way down Perambula who had been listening intently to the rules turned to Gracefeld and said, “Correct me if I am wrong Gracefeld, but did the Lord just say the same thing ten times?”

Gracefeld replied, “You are not wrong. He just said the same things from ten different perspectives. Brilliant!”

Both angels looked at each other and said simultaneously, “Respect Reality!” Then they shared a hearty laugh and the thought of how simple and obvious the Rule was. Gracefeld added, “Now let’s watch them complicate it and disobey in a thousand different ways.” Perambula nodded with a smirk.

Meanwhile, the people below saw only lightening and heard loud peels of thunder and trumpets. They saw smoke billowing out of the mountaintop. In an attempt to endure the fear they remembered Moses say, “Do not be afraid for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of Him upon you so that you do not sin.”

But they didn’t yet know what sin was. Hours and hours passed as the sun was setting behind Sinai, but the congregation still waited patiently for Moses and Aaron to return to tell them what they had to do to satisfy the thunder.


ALIVE Chapter 69 Pentecost - Circle Back to Meaning




From that day that Moses climbed Mt. Sinai through thunder and smoke with every Jew who inhabited the earth in one place meeting God, from that awesome day of the Lord to this moment of reading about it thousands of years later there has been an annual commemoration of the holy and unique period between Passover night and the day God handed down the Torah through Moses. Never forget Passover. Never forget meeting God and receiving His Law. And never forget the time period between the two.

The time period is called Pentecost in Greek and Shavuot in Hebrew. Pente means five (50 days between Passover and receiving the Torah.) The word Shavuot means weeks, the completion of the seven-week counting period between Passover and (Pentecost) Shavuot. 49 days, plus the Sabbath day of Passover at the head of the weeks, hence fifty.

“But wait!” interjects the well read reader, “Exodus 19 says it was three moons later, not 50 days! That’s 90 days! And don’t forget that Shuvout also celebrates the end of the seven week barley and wheat harvest. Why two celebrations on one day, with the same name, Shavuot?”

On the fiftieth day after Passover, Israel celebrates the day it  was given the Torah and became a nation committed to serving God. Although it was 90 days, it is linked to the harvest to tie together grain, the body’s life sustainer, with the law, the soul’s life sustainer. A bouquet of the life of body and soul.

The law is life because God is life. He gave us the law to teach us how to live in cooperation with Him. By obeying the law, our relationship with God is reciprocal.

From that scary dusty day for a thousand years Israel gathered from wherever they had dispersed to Jerusalem to commemorate Pentecost.

The magnificence of Pentecost cannot be overstated. It was the day that God almighty proclaimed His undying love for Israel. He said through Moses, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians [for you] and how I bore you on Eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed the whole earth is Mine, but you shall be for Me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.” And the people replied, “I will.”

“But wait! There are two Pentecosts!” exclaims the knowledgeable reader.

Yes, and there is not one, but two preceding earth shattering rescues by God.

On Passover, God rescued Israel from slavery. Freedom gave   new life to the seeds of Jacob. During the courtship that became the season of Pentecost, there was nothing asked in return as Israel trekked through the wilderness to Sinai. Bitter water turned sweet for them. When they hungered and thirsted, they were fed manna and water that gushed from a rock. God guided and provided all they needed asking for nothing in return until the day of the Law.


The second Rescue by God of Israel occurred on  the night of the Crucifixion, when paradoxically the Angel of Death, instead of passing over the blood of the lamb to kill the firstborn sons of Egypt, honed in on the Lamb of God, His one and only Son.

Yet, imagine the surprise when Hades, the place of the dead received God and was forced to release its captives. On that second holy night Jesus/God rescued all the dead, and the living from the slavery of sin that causes death.

The prison that was Egypt was rendered impotent on Passover night and the prison that was death was rendered impotent on the night of the Crucifixion. Egypt still exists, sin still exists, and death still exists, but they are shells of their former conditions no longer able to hold captives.

Sin is separation from God which is missing the mark of His image and likeness. To divorce yourself from the likeness of the Giver of Life, is to be dead. (To be cruel, to hate, to lie, to cheat and steal etc. is death) That’s why it is said that sin causes death.

First, God rescued the dead in Hades, all those souls who were away from him, and then He set about to make it easier than ever to become like Him, to be truly enhance the Law with Spirit, on Pentecost.

Passover and Pascha are both followed by a 50 day courting period. High in the heavens above, the stars are in the constellation of Gemini, the twins. Pentecost is the primordial  twin.

The Bridegroom Christ courts His bride Ecclesia, the Church, after rescuing her from the power of death. He walks on earth for 40 of those days as an immortal man, and then ascends to heaven to prepare for Pentecost. On the day Israel commemorated the handing down of the life-giving Law, God descended upon Israel as eternal-life giving Holy Spirit.

On Pentecost the twin, God infuses humankind with life through the Law and the Spirit.

“Wait a minute!” blurted the well reader. “Remember, it was NOT 50 days, but 90 days from Passover to Pentecost. Your theory is flawed!”

When Israel walked away from Egypt three moons passed by before the loud and fearsome day when from Mount Sinai the Torah was handed to Israel. 90 days.

“Exactly 90 not 50!” reminds the smart reader.

Yes! That’s the most amazing aspect of it all!

90 minus 50 equals the holy reoccurring magical mystical 40 days. Between Passover and Pentecost lay a 40 day period, like spirit air, that evaporated into the heavens like holy rain, leaving on the books only fifty days of barley and wheat. Food. The earth’s gift of life.

To the evaporated mystical 40 days between Passover and Pentecost, Christ/God added the 10 days after His ascension to heaven.

A joining of the 40 evaporated days of the journey to Sinai, to the ten days between Christ’s ascension and Pentecost became God’s heavenly Pentecost of 50 days. One for the Law, one for the Spirit on Earth, and one in Heaven too! 50:50:50!

The Bridegroom Christ after 40 days, evaporates in His ascension, leaving the Spiritual Food of His mystical Body and Blood behind to be celebrated with the Barley and the Wheat at the Festival of Weeks, Shavuot, Pentecost.

Pentecost. Acts 2. “When the day of Pentecost had come (to commemorate the handing down of the Torah) they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind (as in Creation, Genesis 1:2), and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them the ability.”

The observers were dumbfounded and thought they were drunk. But Peter said it was only morning. He then explained the phenomenon by quoting the prophet Joel, “in the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh...[and people shall prophecy and see visions and dream dreams.] Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”....Then Peter went on to explain that Jesus is the messiah.

Time never matters for God. For Him the two Pentecosts happened on the same day with the same passionate love, giving Israel the Torah first, then the Holy Spirit .

Jeremiah 31 “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other “Know the Lord” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”

Do you see it? Isn’t it amazing?

Regard the triangle. Left bottom is Passover; the right bottom is Pascha.  They join at Pentecost. One union with God through the Law and through the Spirit.

Infuse your mind and heart with the larger meaning Pentecost to be ALIVE. 

ALIVE: Chapter 68, Meet God

God said, “Gracefeld, you and Perambula guide Israel to the mountain beneath us. I want the people to meet Me.”

“My Lord!” blurted Perambula. “How is that possible?! Are you going to take the form of a human apparition like you said we can do?”

“Of course not! I want them to know Me through the vail of fear, and respect. Just bring them here and watch what happens. The time has come that I have awaited since the days of Noah, since Creation, to re-form them from within. The problem has been that despite the conscience that I planted in them as I planted the lungs, yet unlike the lungs that function well, the conscience weakens in the presence of the ego. It’s a flaw. Clear rules for behavior from Me will strengthen the weak conscience.  I will spell out what I expect from them with commandments and laws. Then there will be no excuse for misbehavior.”

Gracefeld sneered cynically, “I wish you success my Lord, but with all due respect, I doubt that will work. These beings seem too be too willful, but it’s worth a try.”

God smiled the smile of knowing, the smile of tolerance. “Oh,  ultimately I will be very successful. You will see; but in the meantime make sure Moses has something to write with.”

On the third new moon after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they stopped at the foot of the mountain Sinai, where God was waiting for them, where Perambula and Gracefeld had lead them. 

Moses was aware that God was there on that mountain and called him to hike up for instruction. After an hour’s hike, Moses stopped to rest. That’s when he heard the Lord say, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. Now go back and tell them.”

Gracefeld overheard that and thought, ‘Brilliant! God is going to use their ego to combat their ego’s power over the conscience.’ The angel smiled at its own foolishness cynicism.

Without delay, Moses turned and headed back down the mountain full of wonder. Being the link between divine God and human beings required tremendous physical strength for such an old man, and it required a clean and open heart.  Moses had to straddle earth and heaven as no ordinary man before him, and no one since. Moses was most Alive, unique, humble, and open. No man before or after Moses had spent so much time serving as His instrument to change the face of the world. No one.

Moses is the giant stepping stone in the middle of the stream of centuries for ordinary humans to use to leap from the death and darkness of ignorance to the life and light of the knowledge of God.

As he carefully descended the mountain Moses’ thoughts turned to the people. He always knew that this congregation from the twelve sons of Jacob were special, set aside out of all mankind, but it was encouraging to hear it again from the Lord. Moses never saw Perambula and Gracefeld, but he sensed that the absence of more enemy tribes on this journey was providential.

He knew too that the covenant with Abraham was as strong as it had been on the day God announced it centuries earlier, on the day of the circumcision of Ishmael, but that the time had come for each person to have the covenant written on his and her heart. It was to be a covenant of relationship, a covenant of trust between Creator and created, between heart and face.

The covenant of trust that Abraham was so faithful to, would be affirmed by Abraham’s great grandsons and daughters daily through obedience.

When he returned to the camp, Moses summoned the elders and told them that the Lord God had instructions for them. He was relieved and a little surprised, given all their complaints, when he heard the people all answer as one: “Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.”

After the elders dispersed, Moses hiked back up the mountain to report the people’s willingness to obey. As he climbed the mountain Moses increasingly sensed the presence of the powerful Spirit of God until he could restrain himself no longer. Moses spoke out loud. He said, “Lord! The people want to meet You and they promised to obey you! Imagine that!”

The Lord smiled both for Moses’ enthusiasm and his naïveté.  Moses did not sense the Lord’s smile or the reason for it, but only heard the Lord respond, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and prepare for the third day, because on the third day I will come down this mountain in the sight of all the people.”

Then God became very serious and very stern. He said, “You will need to set limits for all the people. Tell them to be careful not to go up to the mountain or touch the edge of it. Any who touches the edge of the mountain will be put to death.”

Upon hearing that Moses was frightened and concerned. He wondered why others would be killed for something that was so common for Moses and how that would happen.

Reading his thoughts, God explained, “No hand shall touch them, but they shall be stoned or shot with arrows; whether animal or human being, they shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, then they may go up on the mountain. Now be gone and prepare the people.”

As Moses descended the mountain, he wondered why the other people had to take such great care to prepare themselves to meet God when all this time, he himself was neither ritually clean nor frightened. Well, not as frightened as he was when he saw the burning bush, but that was so long ago.

Gracefeld whispered into the heart of Moses, “If they aren’t afraid, if they don’t sense imminent death, then they will not feel compelled to obey. You are different Moses. You were not a slave. They have been ruled by fear and through fear they will be taught.”

His mind brimming with thoughts and arguments, Moses carefully descended the mountain watching out for snakes and loose rocks, until he reached the bottom where he was greeted by several elders.

Moses responded to their facial queries by saying, “Bring the congregation together here; I have something to tell them.”

When they all congregated around Moses who stood patiently at the foot of the mountain, and all eyes were on him, men young and old in the front, followed by a jagged layer of young maidens and old women, and on the outskirts mothers with children running about, he spoke with all the authority and power he could muster. Without help from Aaron, Moses took a deep breath and spoke slowly and distinctly with only a slight stutter.

When Moses lifted his right hand, the people instinctively all bowed their heads. He consecrated the people by praying, “May our Lord God bless these His people. May He keep and protect them from all harm, purify them from all unrighteousness that they will come to know Him and become a sacred holy unique people on this mighty earth.”

After a few moments of silence while the people absorbed the blessing and were sure Moses was finished, the people one after another looked up. Some faces appeared radiant with smiles, others were somber.

Looking straight into their faces, hundreds of eyes catching his own Moses added, “Now all of you, men included, wash your clothes, wash your bodies. Prepare for the third day; do not go near a woman. Now be gone. Do as I say. The Lord God is watching us. Prepare yourselves to meet the almighty Creator.”

The congregation dispersed in silence. Israel didn’t know what to expect, but they all sensed that it could be overwhelming. Humility infused with fear visited every soul.

After all that these people had experienced in Egypt, the many strange and awful plagues, crossing through the sea on dry ground at night, water pouring from a rock, and daily manna falling to feed them, Israel could not begin to imagine what the Source of all this magic would be like.

Most young people were excited, and most older people were terrified in anticipation of meeting God. They all knew that Moses had been meeting and talking with Him for ages, and that he didn’t die, but no one ever stopped to think what it was like for Moses to be in the presence of such power and glory. One by one sleep claimed the mind of each man, woman and child. All of Israel lay in deep peaceful slumber on the night before their visitation.

On the morning of the awesome third day while women and children scurried around to gather the manna into baskets, a loud sound of thunder shocked everyone’s ears, and then  lightening was seen as bolts crashing through the sky. No rain followed. Instead, a thick cloud as of fog covered the mountain. All hands stopped working, all eyes looked up at the mountain. Then, a blast of a celestial trumpet sounded so loud that all the people in the camp trembled with fear not knowing where that strange sound came from.

All heads turned left and right searching for Moses and upon seeing him went to join him who was leading the growing crowd that moved as one body out of the camp toward the loud and mysterious mountain.

By the time they arrive, Sinai was rapped in smoke. The Lord had descended on it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. The blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Moses hollered words no one could hear and God answered him in thunder. This bizarre conversation was more frightening than anyone reading this could imagine. Many fell on their knees and covered their heads with their hands with their eyes shut tightly.

Only Moses was not afraid. Those brave souls with eyes opened watched in awe as Moses climbed up to the top of the loud rumbling mountain. He appeared as a fly drawn to the light until he disappeared into the smoke.

Those close enough to hear, heard Moses shout, “Stay there! Do not follow me. I will be back.” No one tried to follow, not even Aaron.

When he arrived at the top of Mount Sinai, the Lord said to Moses, “Go back down and warn the people not to break through to Me to look; otherwise many of them will perish. Even the priests who approach Me must consecrate themselves or they will die.”

Moses said to the Lord, “Remember, these people are not permitted to come up to Mount Sinai; for you yourself warned us saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and keep it Holy.”

The Lord said, “Okay. Go down, and return with Aaron; but do not let either the priests or the people follow.” So Moses carefully hiked back down the mountain to fetch his brother Aaron.


Chapter 67 The First Fight

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of Israelites journeying by stages stopped to set up camp at Rephidim. Manna continued to fall wherever they were, but at Rephidim there was no water to drink. God decided to leave something out to see how they would react, or rather to give them another reminder that He was with them. That God repeatedly made Himself so obvious was unique and would have amazed any one of the zillions of people who have passed through this planet, but people are funny. Even miracles can become mundane to them. Even more sad and more common is how they cling to a separatist mentality when all along God wants to interact with them and be their God.

Israel complained to Moses saying, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” What a slap to God’s face. Once again and for the zillionth time, He swallowed His pride and refused to react, but instead carried on with His mission to reform His people. The slow, methodical centuries-long plan to populate a new world with trusting chosen ones turned immortal. With His focus on that goal, God could dismiss the callous stupidity of these poor freed slaves.

Moses, who was less patient, and ignorant of the end game, cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” But to the people Moses said, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?”

The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.”

Moses didn’t hesitate, and he didn’t question that water could be extracted from a rock which pleased God. That day God used the driest, most lifeless thing in the world, a dense hard rock, to send forth the essence of life, water. All that Israel wanted was a drink of water, but what all the zillions of people who hear and read of this event through the centuries receive is  something much more vital and lasting, that is water for a rocky soul to germinate the seeds of faith. Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing.

Moses did what the Lord instructed. The people watched as he gathered the elders who followed him to a small nearby boulder. When Moses struck the rock a stream of water came pouring out and the relieved thirsty people drank to their hearts’ content, and filled their jugs for the journey. Moses called that place, Test and Quarrel.

God decided that it was time to test them again with something more threatening than thirst. For the first time since they left their safe and secure Egyptian workhouses, the Lord introduced an enemy. It was time for God to deflect the people’s rancor from Moses and Himself and give them a real foe to direct their hostilities upon.

A band of locals, named for their leader Amalek, appeared and fought with the intruders, Israel. Moses recognized the scoundrels from his days in Midian for they were known for being the serpents of the wilderness. In fact Moses was surprised they hadn’t encountered Amalek sooner.

“Good move Lord,” said Gracefeld to God. “These people deserve a good fight for being so faithless. Why do they get so angry at Moses? Why don’t they simply pray for their needs? Ask and they shall receive!”

God smiled and replied, “I like that phrase. I may use it someday. You must remember Gracefeld that these people are used to being told what to do every minute of every day. They have hated the task masters for centuries and it will take time and experiences to change the mindset that resents and complains against the leader. Let them get beat up a bit; it will be good for them.” Gracefeld nodded and Perambula looked with fascination for the upcoming battle.

Meanwhile when Moses saw the ruffians approach the camp, he sought out Joshua, a strong young Israelite whom he had come to admire for his unusual optimism and enthusiasm. “Ah, there you are Josh! Choose some men for us and go out and fight Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”

Joshua replied enthusiastically, “At your service!” God looked on approvingly, proud of the bravery of Joshua.

The next morning Moses, Aaron and, Hur hiked up a nearby hill with the staff. From that vantage point they could witness the collision between Amalek with his ruffians and the innocent, inexperienced Israelites who clearly needed help from above.

Much to their distress, because they were not warrior angels like Michael, Gracefeld and Perambula were instructed to carefully participate in the battle. Whenever Moses held up his hand which Gracefeld watched for, Perambula would enter the fray and cause Amalek to make a careless move so Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Perambula would allow the professional fighters of Amalek to prevail. Gracefeld thought the charade was silly, but didn’t challenge the Lord for the angel knew that His purpose was one more opportunity for Israel to be aware of the presence and magnitude of the Lord God.

Old Moses’ grew weary, so Aaron found a large enough stone for him to sit on. After a while longer, the hand-to-hand combat still transpiring, Aaron and Hur stood on Moses’ left and right and held up Moses hands for him, so his hands were high and steady until sunset when Amalek gave up, being all bloodied up from the gashes that Joshua and his men inflicted on them with their swords.

Perambula was exhausted!!

“Welcome to the real world,” said Gracefeld to Israel cynically, still irritated over their insults to God,  “where your enemy is neither hunger nor thirst, nor your own bodily cravings, nor Moses or your Lord, but rather like the Lord, your enemy is those base and blind godless animal-men who want to extinguish your very existence.” Israel didn’t hear a word spoken by the angel, but Perambula cast a glance at Gracefeld and smiled in agreement.

When the fighting had ended, the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a reminder in a book and recite it to Joshua: I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”

Moses built an altar and called it, The Lord is my banner. He said, “A hand upon the banner of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

Israel slept well that night. Babies curled up in mother’s bellies and beside them. Men snored loudly, even children didn’t thrash around as they usually did. All was quiet and still in Rephidim after Amalek slithered away leaving trails of blood behind them.