Posts Tagged ‘Damascus’


Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 27

David was away at war a great deal after building the house of cedar for his family. Absalom heard from time to time of the great victories his father was having. He heard of the great acclaim his father received after defeating the Philistines. Now jealousy of his father began to take root alongside his bitterness.

Absalom himself, now a teenager, was still too young to be directly involved in battle. He heard of the cruelties of war, however, as David defeated the Moabites and executed two out of every three prisoners. His father’s approach was extreme, to say the least. He should have acted with greater compassion. You have to win the allegiance of people, not make them afraid of reprisals, he thought.

David’s exploits increased as he captured thousands of foot soldiers and horsemen. Absalom recoiled as he heard that his father had hamstrung the chariot horses, keeping only enough for one hundred chariots. He dreamed of the glory that he would receive when he would have horsemen and foot soldiers and ride in a chariot.

Reports and rumours continued to flow into Jerusalem.

“David has killed 22,000 Arameans. The rest of them have become his subjects, paying him tribute money for their very existence.”

“David has established garrisons in Damascus, the previous capital of the enemy.”

“The Edomites have become David’s servants.”

Absalom watched as his father brought the shields of gold and huge amounts of bronze from Hadadezer’s cities to Jerusalem for all to see. David became rich from the plunder and popular from the praise of the people of Israel.

It was during one such parade that Absalom came across a soldier with a Canaanite dagger. He recognised the shape of the blade immediately but the hilt was much more ornate. The soldier was binding it tightly with a leather thong and Absalom thought it strange that the carving on the hilt should be covered.

“Why are you covering up the design?” asked Absalom. The soldier suddenly looked embarrassed and avoided the question by saying that it gave him a better grip. The knife was quickly placed out of sight and the soldier made his way into the crowd. As Absalom made his way to court, he was left wondering at the soldiers reluctance to answer his question.

He remembered the dagger that Joab had given him. Its hilt was also bound with leather. For the first time, he began to wonder if anything lay beneath the tightly wound leather bands. Perhaps his dagger too bore some strange design on its hilt.

Absalom was just entering the court when the ambassador from king Hamath arrived to congratulate David for his great victory against Hadadezer. The young man was about his own age and Absalom soon discovered that he too was the son of a king, speaking on behalf of his father, as a royal ambassador. He had brought with him various gifts made of silver, gold and bronze. This was the wedge Absalom needed. While his father was still in Jerusalem, Absalom took his opportunity to raise the matter of ambassadorship. He hungered for more power.

“All I am asking for is the same recognition that King Hamath gives to his son. Make me your royal ambassador.”

“I am not interested in building reputations, Absalom. I am establishing the kingdom that God promised to our people.”

“You have built up your own reputation by parading the plunder from your victories before the people.”

“You know that isn’t true, Absalom. I have made it plain to the people that recognition belongs to God for our victories. All these gifts, plus the gold and silver from the nations we have defeated and subdued, have been dedicated publicly to the Lord.”

Never-the-less as he organised his kingdom, the seed that Absalom had planted in David’s mind took root and he decided to give his sons more authority, and so Absalom’s gradual rise to a position of power began. Absalom became one of the chief ministers of the kingdom. In fact, all David’s sons became royal advisers.

Kept up to date with kingdom events, Absalom was also keeping a careful eye on how best he might extend his power. Although this royal appointment placed Absalom in a very important position of influence and authority, it was not enough.


Remembrance Day at the Shalom Centre, Sydney

He has now finished his thesis for his 2nd masters degree in Theology, but Bob Creelman is more excited about running a men’s group at the Shalom Centre, the Aged Care Facility where I am the Chaplain. He has been in Israel recently and now my Geologist/Theologian friend was having lunch with me telling me about being in Beersheba and the history about Remembrance Day. Bob loves history, especially the history of war.

The discussion includes the Australian Light Horse Brigade who served at the Battle of Beersheba and how they made their famous cavalry charge on 31 October 1917, during the advance on Damascus. Bob told me he had found the gravestones of some of these brave men and had taken some photos. I said that I would be interested in displaying the photos as part of a PowerPoint presentation I was doing for the Remembrance Day Service (Shalom had the service on Friday 9th this year).

I notice that Douglas Mountain is sitting at the next table. I can see he is interested in our conversation when we spoke of Beersheba and the Light Horse, so I invite him over. I have already asked Douglas, a returned serviceman himself, to participate in the Remembrance Day service the next day.

Just yesterday I had a conversation with Douglas and I know Bob will be interested. Douglas is wearing an Australian Remembrance ring. When he bought it a few years ago he was encouraged to have it engraved with the name of a member of the family who had been to war. He engraved the name of his uncle, T.W.Mountain who was wounded in the charge of the Light Horse Brigade in Beersheba and died 3 days later way back in 1917. We are enthralled by the conversation.

Bob is even more excited when he rings me in the afternoon. Of the six photos he had taken when he had visited the gravestones in Beersheba, one of them included the name of T.W.Mountain, 1st Australian Light Horse, 3rd November, 1917, Age 27. It was Douglas Mountain’s uncle! How amazing is that!

At our Remembrance Day service, after Douglas Mountain reads a poem, I get him to stay at the microphone and ask him about the ring he wears, it’s inscription and the story of his uncle. He shows everyone the medals of his uncle which he is wearing alongside his own. He is completely surprised when Bob Creelman comes to the front and presents him with a beautiful remembrance booklet with the photo of his uncle’s grave and I display the picture of the gravestone on the screen. A moving moment.

Douglas Mountain receives a Remembrance Book from Bob Creelman

Douglas comes to us after the service and tells how all through his life, he has rarely received any affirmation or encouragement for any of his achievements or the achievements of his family during times of war. Sometimes something special happens and he treasures such moments. This is one occasion he will treasure.

Just a chance conversation at a lunch table? Not at all. Bob told me later that on the day he took the photographs in Beersheba, he had a friendly debate with his Jewish friend about Providence. He will write to him about Remembrance Day and about a God moment where we had an opportunity to honour and remember a brave man who gave his life in a decisive battle during World War 1. Douglas Mountain’s gravestone reads “Greater is no man than he who lays down his life for his country.” These words echo the words of (NKJV) which says “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for His friends.” This speaks ofwhat Christ has done for us when He died for our sins on the Cross and won the victory at another decisive battle. 

Pastor Ross

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