Posts Tagged ‘Philistines’

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 46

David doesn’t have a chance! Shimeah relived it again with Eliab.

Jonadab, Shimeah’s son, was spellbound by the story. “What did Goliath look like?”

“Goliath was a Philistine warrior, a giant of a man with skin the colour of sun-tanned leather and forearms the size of David’s waist. He wore armour over his huge frame and his voice boomed throughout the valley.”

With malevolent intent towards David, Goliaths words had trailed up the valley and echoed in Shimeah’s ears, “‘Come here,’ he said, ‘and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and animals!’” My stomach was in knots. Shimeah had seen some of the broken bodies that remained after hand to hand combat and against this experienced veteran of war.

“David’s voice was so clear and confident. But he seemed so naïve!”

“I remember. Almost arrogant,” said Eliab. “He said,‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.’ The Philistines laughed at his audacity.”

Shimeah said “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing. I turned to king Saul and said, ‘We have to stop him, sir! Can’t you command him to return?’ but he said, ‘I have no intention of interfering, nor will you.’ I couldn’t save him. I just had to watch.’” One of Saul’s guards had moved menacingly close to Shimeah. Why did I freeze up? I didn’t do anything. Only his eyes had revealed the desperate fear he had felt for David.

Shimeah and Eliab could see it all before them. Shimeah said, “As the Philistine moved closer, David ran quickly forward to meet his attack. He reached into his bag, took out a stone, and placed it in the cradle of his sling. In the same action, it was thrust into a swinging arc, centrifugal force stretching the leather slightly with the weight of the stone.”

After three sweeping turns, it had begun to sing in anticipation of release and David had snapped the sling in a deft movement that shot the stone from the arc of its swing in a deadly tangent towards Goliath. “It caught Goliath in the temple. It was a dull crack, like the sound of a sun-dried clay water pot being broken”. Goliath had swayed indecisively before his legs buckled. “He went down like a fallen tree.”

David is an expert marksman. “The stone sunk deep into Goliath’s forehead.” Goliath’s eyes had glared with unseeing astonishment. “His body convulsed for the last time.” The sling David had used was capable of letting a stone fly with incredible velocity and accuracy, though it had never before been used as a weapon of warfare.

“Did you see how he reached into his pouch again?” said Eliab, “He was even prepared to face Goliath’s armour bearers! But they were so shocked that they simply turned and ran for their lives.”

The whole Philistine army, seeing that David’s God had really done what He said He would do, also began to run, with superstitious fear flowing through their veins.

“David then ran, stood over Goliath’s huge frame, drew the enormous sword from the scabbard of this man and cut off his head. Goliath’s sword was so big that he had some difficulty in wielding it properly.”

The silence in Israel had exploded as every man in Israel came to life and surged forward with a shout to pursue the Philistines. “David was still holding the Philistine’s head as king Saul approached him.

‘Whose son are you, young man?’ he asked him.

David said, ‘I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.’”

Shimeah and Eliab remembered these events so clearly. Shimeah looked at Jonadab We brought home much plunder that day. That’s the same day that you were born.” Shimeah had called him Jonadab because his name meant The Lord is bountiful.

David had taken the weapons of Goliath and placed them in his tent. Shimeah said,“That sword was so masterfully made. Did you see it’s hilt? It had that unusual carving of a lion and a wolf in mortal combat with each other.

“Yes, the workmanship was beautiful. The blade was iron of course, but it must have been tempered by an expert smith. I doubt if even Barzillai could have created something to match it.”

Now, years later, as Shimeah thought about Goliath and those weapons, he still felt a little resentful and jealous towards David. It seemed that Shimeah had been passed over while God had destined David for greatness.

Shimeah’s son, Jonadab, was now a young man, “But all that is a long time ago. And now, you mix with David’s sons in court.” Shimeah had taught him to be shrewd but some of his attitudes towards David had also been passed down. Never-the-less Jonadab had become good friends with Amnon, his cousin, one of David’s sons.

Perhaps it had something to do with the unresolved jealousy of Shimeah that Jonadab, his son, influenced the course of events of the kingdom and triggered the fulfilment of another part of Nathan’s prophecy to David.

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WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 45

“He seemed so careless.” Jesse’s three oldest sons had gone with Saul to the war. Shimeah and Eliab were recalling to Jonadab, Shimeah’s son, the sense of excitement and fear as they had set out. Shimeah said, “As the youngest son, David’s main responsibility was to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem but our father was always anxious to know how we were, so he had David visit us from time to time with rations.”

Eliab took up the story, “Then one particular day David arrived at just the wrong time. He reached the camp just as we were going out to our battle positions, shouting the war cry. All our forces in Israel and the enemy’s forces had drawn up the battle formations facing each other.

We were looking down at the Philistines from the safety of a hill. David ran right up to the battle lines to greet us without any regard for the battle that was about to take place. He was either brave or ignorant of what was happening,” said Eliab.

So irresponsible, thought Shimeah. “Neither of us thought it was being brave. I told him ‘Get back out of the danger area!’”

“That’s when Goliath appeared. The Philistine champion from Gath stepped out from his lines and shouted out a defiant challenge that David heard.”

Although they were on a hill looking into the valley, the Israelites were pulling away from this man and there was a general sense of fear in the ranks. “I grabbed David and pulled him back.” Didn’t he see the size of that man? Why didn’t he run like I told him to?

“David just looked at Goliath and said ‘Why isn’t someone taking up his challenge?’ I told him ‘Someone will have to eventually. Do you remember that the king had promised great wealth to the man who killed him.”

Eliab said, “Yes, I remember. Saul promised his daughter in marriage and to exempt his father’s family from taxes in Israel, but I must admit, I thought you would have to be half-mad to fight that giant of a man.”

Shimeah said, “That didn’t stop David. He was outraged that no-one had taken up the challenge. He even challenged me to fight Goliath. He was saying ‘What are you waiting for? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?’”

“So heroic,” said Eliab. So conceited, thought Shimeah. It was embarrassing.

“You didn’t think that he was so heroic then.”

“No, I didn’t. I thought he was conceited. I regret that now. When I heard him speaking with the men, I said, ‘Why have you come down here? Who’s looking after our sheep in the desert?’”

Shimeah laughed. “A shepherd boy giving us orders.”

“That just made him even more annoyed and determined.” Like Shimeah, Eliab had noticed the change in David since Samuel had anointed him with oil. “I said, ‘Don’t start showing your indignation to us. I know how conceited you are. The fact that you’re here shows how wicked your heart is; you came down here so you could watch the battle. Now go home where you belong and watch the sheep instead!’But he wasn’t at all discouraged by this. He just kept on urging other men to fight this Philistine.”

“When one of the commanders heard what David was saying, he took him aside and both of us decided to let our little brother receive the reprimand he deserved.” Shimeah thought, We left him without support. I thought that would be the end.

Jonadab was on the edge of his seat, not saying a word. The rest of the story was burned into their memories. Shimeah said “The next minute, to both our horror, David was running down into the valley by himself. I called to him to come back but one of the commanders ordered me to be quiet. He told me, ‘He has the authority of king Saul himself to go.’”

Shimeah sat, words flashing through his memory, “I said, ‘But he has no armour, just a staff in his hand!’ He said ‘Saul had offered him armour and he refused to wear it.’” David, what were you thinking?

Eliab broke in, “I saw David choosing stones from the stream, placing them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approaching the Philistine.”

Shimeah had been too shocked to move or speak. “It was so silent in that moment. No-one moved.”

Goliath’s eyes were hungry and Shimeah and Eliab, standing near king Saul, would never forget the next few moments.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 43

“Tell me about this legend,” Absalom repeated.

“The story begins with the lion god,” said Obed-edom as the story of his childhood flooded back into his memory. “It is said that one day the lion, filled with pride, roared so loud that all of Canaan could hear, ‘I rule this domain!’ it said, ‘None can challenge me!’ But it’s roar was answered by the howling cry of the wolf high in the hills, ‘I will challenge you! Stay away from here or you will know the teeth of the wolf that devour even the strongest of foes!’

The lion was so annoyed at the arrogance of the wolf that that it stalked through the long grass and up into the hills until it finally came upon the lair of the wolf. A terrible battle took place and the wolf was killed by the powerful lion. The lion also killed the wolf’s mate and all but one of its cubs who hid itself in the back of the lair.

The wolf cub hid in the hills until it almost starved to death. But Molech, the god of war and strength, who was a master iron-smith, helped the wolf cub until it was fully grown, giving it teeth of iron. The teeth of the wolf are still made by the Philistines today in the kiln of Molech, in the form of daggers such as the one you hold today.

Then one day the lion heard the howling cry of the wolf, now fully grown, as it mourned over the loss of its family and vowed revenge. With teeth of iron, it came down from the hills to the plains where it continues to track down the lion to this day.

The lion and wolf still remain bitter enemies and the roars and snarling of lion and wolf can still be heard in Canaan during times of battle. One day it is said that the battle will be resolved, but in the meantime, the Philistines fight their enemies with the iron teeth of the wolf and the roar of the lion.

The lion and wolf god are the Philistine gods of war because they are two of the strongest of the predators. It is believed that when the Philistines fight, they gain favour with the wolf god and he will not raid and kill their flocks.

Of course, the Philistines also have many other gods, but the image you see on this hilt is the favourite mark of the iron-smiths. This dagger came from the kiln of Molech, where to my shame, a child was sacrificed to the god of war. I witnessed this murder and thought little of it at the time. When the Philistines fight they are supposedly fighting to avenge the death of their children.

I was the one who fashioned the blade and carved the image on the hilt personally. It was originally for a Philistine prince or king to carry into battle but I was captured before I had time to present it. It has a curse of vengeance upon it, my lord. So you see why it would be better to destroy this weapon. It has been dedicated for evil.”

Absalom was fascinated by the old man’s story and had no intention of destroying the dagger.

“Your story was superstitious nonsense, old man, but you have been most helpful.” said Absalom.

Obed-edom was quiet and prayerful for the rest of the day. Only Barzillai had noticed the change in his mood and after an hour of working with him in silence, he said,

“What troubles you, old friend? Has Absalom brought you bad news?”

“Absalom showed me a weapon that I formed just before I was captured. I have been responsible for making many weapons that have been dedicated to Molech over the years. I have made the smallest iron talisman that warriors wore into battle, as well as weapons of immense size and weight. Barzillai, you have heard of Goliath?” Barzillai nodded.

“I was responsible for forging the weapons he used,” said Obed-edom “and dedicating them to Molech to be used against Israel.”

“My friend, those days are now over. God has brought forgiveness to you and your family,” said Barzillai.

“That’s not my concern. I know now that God has forgiven me and I stand clean before Him,” said Obed-edom, “but the weapon Absalom showed me was the finest of all daggers that I have made. It is a thing of vengeance. A child was sacrificed in the kiln it came from and it is cursed. I am afraid that it will bring harm to whoever carries it.” Obed-edom did not realise it, but already the dagger had been used as a weapon of vengeance.

“I have learned that things such as your dagger have no power in themselves to hurt anyone, my friend,” said Barzillai, “It is only metal. It can be used for good or evil purposes.”

“But what about the curse upon it?” said Obed-edom.

“It seems to me that the curses of vengeance will only have an effect if there is first a foothold in a person’s life.” said Barzillai, “every one of us is susceptible to allowing a curse to have power in our lives, but with God’s help, we don’t have to open the door to it’s evil.”


 

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 42

Absalom was directed to an old man who was instructing Ammonite slaves about kiln making. He seemed very cheerful and pleased to meet Absalom and bowed down with his face to the ground when he realised that he was in the presence of royalty.

“My lord, I am your servant.” said Obed-edom.

“I have been told that you are a Philistine.” said Absalom.

“I was once a Philistine, my lord.” said Obed-edom with a smile on his face. “For many years now I have served your father the king and now I also serve the living God of Israel.”

Absalom ignored the comments and said, “I have something to show you that has the carvings of Canaanite origin. I want you to tell me what it means.”

“I will try to help you in any way that I can, my lord.” said Obed-edom. Absalom directed Obed-edom to move under one of shelters so that no-one else could overhear their conversation or see what they were doing.

He took the dagger from beneath his coat and handed it to the old man. Obed-edom stood transfixed for some time as he looked at the weapon. All the memories of demon gods and talisman came flooding back into his mind. He remembered the day of the birth of this dagger in the kiln of Molech and when he thought of the gruesome child sacrifice, he suddenly dropped the dagger as if it were red hot. Absalom reached for it immediately.

“Be careful, old man. I don’t want it damaged!” said Absalom.

“Why have you brought this weapon to me?” said Obed-edom. His face was white at the shock of seeing the dagger that he had once made. For a fleeting moment he thought perhaps that Absalom intended to punish him in some way.

“I want you to tell me what the images and symbols mean?” said Absalom. He was intrigued at the reaction of the old man. What hidden secrets does this dagger hold?

“You must destroy it immediately!” said Obed-edom, “It can only lead to harm. It came from the fire of Molech and was dedicated to the demon gods. It doesn’t belong here.”

“I’ll decide whether or not to destroy it. But first I want you to tell me all you know about it.” said Absalom, who was beginning to get a little frustrated.

“Yes, my lord. Of course.” said Obed-edom. He was dry in the mouth and needed to lick his lips and swallow several times as he recalled the ancient story, filled with superstition and demonic power to bring harm upon others, that he had heard many times as a child.

“The symbol on the top of the hilt is the Canaanite symbol for the god Molech and the symbol on the sides of the hilt is of the lion and wolf gods. Together they speak of avenging the enemy for the sacrifice of our children. The image that is carved is of the lion and the wolf in mortal combat. It comes from an ancient legend about these two powerful predators.”

“Tell me about this legend.” said Absalom.

Obed-edom tried to regain his composure.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Chapter 16

David could see the blade, honed to perfection, slicing through the air towards him. Everything seemed to be focused on the dreadful edge of that sword, and in that split second David heard the clear voice of God speak, “Baal-Perazim! I am the Lord of the Breakthrough!”

From behind David, in full view of the creature, what looked like a great cloud seemed to surge and lift and fill the sky. It raced over David’s head and across the plain all around him, the thunder of its power now pulsating in his ears. It rippled across the sky towards the enemies who now completely surrounded king David and instead of darkening the sky it seemed as if the sky was filled with light.

A terrifying wind howled around them piercing the air with an awesome sound. The strength in the creatures arm seemed to melt and the force of his sword was easily deflected. A fear that David could almost feel now haunted the creatures eyes as he hesitated just a moment too long. David took the opportunity to thrust his sword forward. The creature looked down in horror as the sword found its mark and sliced cleanly into its heart.

As the creature roared in fear and pain David shouted, “I come to establish the righteousness, peace and joy of the Lord of heaven and earth this day!”

David could see then that the cloud was not a cloud at all, but thousands and thousands of Angelic beings racing towards the enemy. As he thrust his sword a second time towards the creature, the cloud dropped like a flood released from a dam.

“As waters break out, so have I broken out against My enemies before You!” came God’s clear voice from the flood. The deluge broke over them with the force of an exploding volcano. With another thrust of David’s sword, it swamped the enemy completely in front and behind and David lost sight of them in the rushing, surging tide. It seemed that he stood in the eye of a tornado as the enemy was ripped asunder.

What seemed like only moments later there was silence. It broke upon the plain with an eerie suddenness. David could hear the blood pulsing through his ears. There was no sight of the enemy or their leader. Thousands of broken idols were strewn across the plain. The chains and blindfolds from the captive nations had fallen away and they were standing in absolute silence looking towards him.

“I come in the name of the Lord of hosts,” he said, and his voice quivered with awe. As realisation dawned upon the masses that stood before him, cheering broke out across the plain and shouts of praise and worship filled the air.

In that moment, he felt so weak he collapsed, lying prostrate before the Lord, filled with the exhilaration and exhaustion of victory. He awoke from his vision on the floor, with Ahithophel peering anxiously into his eyes. He had heard David collapse and had run into the room expecting the worst. He was relieved not only to find David alive but somehow glowing.

“What happened, my lord?” said Ahithophel.

“Ahithophel, you know better than to interrupt me while I am in prayer. Why are you here?” said David, ignoring the question.

“My lord, I came to tell you that the Philistines have gathered in the valley of Rephaim!”

David looked into the concerned eyes of Ahithophel and laughed. He said, “No, not Rephaim. Baal-Perazim!” and Ahithophel was totally confused as David headed off to command his army.

Aiming at the heart, with the first thrust of David’s forces, the Philistines were driven back, perplexed at such strength, and had to regather their troops. Again they spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim, a large army. They didn’t realise, however, that the valley of Rephaim was now the valley of the Lord of the Breakthrough, Baal-Perazim, won through prayer. David went against the Philistines with a sure knowledge of victory that day and defeated the enemy quickly.

God told David to have Israel circle around behind the Philistines and when they heard a marching-like rustle in the balsam trees they were to attack and drive the Philistines from Gibeon to Gezer, a distance of about twenty-four kilometres. God performed His promise, went before them, and routed all the enemy’s force, right to the very borders of their own country.

The destruction was turned upon the Philistines and their evil was broken in the land. As demon worshipers, the Philistines were very superstitious. The charms they wore into battle, idols of Dagon, Ashtoreth and Baalzebub were abandoned in their rush to escape the slaughter. They had become sacrifices to their own idols. They were the same scattered idols David had seen so clearly in his dream. One of the weapons left behind on the battlefield was a dagger. It had the same shaped blade as the dagger Joab had used to kill Abner. In fact, it had come from the same forge. It was picked up by one of David’s soldiers as they carried the idols of the Canaanites away and destroyed them.

From that point on, that part of the Valley of Rephaim, only four or five kilometres South-West of Jerusalem became known as, “Baal-Perazim”, the Lord of the Breakthrough.

The same thing would one day happen at the feast of Pentecost many years hence. When the kingdom of the Messiah came, apostles were told that they were not to do anything until they received the promise of the Holy Spirit.

And when the Spirit came, it was just like the sound of a rushing mighty wind from heaven. It was the sound of victory as warriors of a new covenant went to battle against the forces of evil and to usher in the kingdom of God. In fact, it sounded just like the sound that David heard that day rushing through the tops of the balsam trees.

In prayer, a victorious king David reflected on the goodness of God in his life. He had made the most important decision of his life many years ago out on the hills with his sheep. He would dedicate his life to the Lord of hosts. God had remained faithful over the years and he stayed up for most of this night in prayer.

David had reigned as king in Hebron for seven and a half years. At first there had been a civil war with those who had supported the old regime of king Saul but eventually David had been anointed king over all the twelve tribes of Israel.

After defeating the Jebusites, he had moved his military base to the fortified defences of Jerusalem. Now, it had been relatively easy for his family for a while.

The Philistines saw king David as a brilliant strategist in warfare. They were never a problem to him again. He had been able to build himself a palace, open up highways and trade routes and relax from the pressures of war.

For the first time for Obed-edom, the old Philistine slave, life seemed overwhelmingly good. God had answered his prayers and, miraculously, king David and his army had defeated the Philistines. Somehow he no longer saw himself as a Philistine. Now he was a slave of Jehovah Sabaoth, and each morning he uttered tearful thanks to the God who had created him for such a time as this.

He and his sons all began to find a deep relationship with the God of Israel and they began to wholeheartedly participate in the worship ceremonies. Each Sabbath day they listened avidly to each word that the priest uttered so that they could learn more about God and sometimes they were allowed to ask questions about the things that puzzled them.

For David, the Lord had to have central place in the kingdom, and it was while he was in prayer that he was prompted to bring back the Ark of the Covenant from Kiriath-Jearim to Jerusalem, and place it in the special tabernacle prepared for it. He could not realise how the events of the coming days would change him.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Chapter 15

Hearing that David was now king of the united tribes of Israel, the Philistines had become troubled. They knew him to be a man skilled in battle strategies and, therefore, David was an immediate threat. They expressed their opposition by gathering their armies. As David learned of this approaching threat, he went to enquire of the Lord.

In prayer, David saw the realities of his anointing. The presence of God enveloped him as he prayed and he saw a picture of his hand crushing the Philistine army. God spoke clearly to him. “Go against them for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” This would be a battle borne from contempt of his leadership and he would fight it in a way that honoured God.

Somehow, as he prayed, David sensed that even more was at stake. Although he could not see God’s plan outstretched across the centuries, he felt that someone waited beyond the realms of time, watching for the battle to be completed. He could not have known that another king would one day come directly through his line to claim an even wider kingdom. He could not know that it was really His kingdom, the kingdom of the coming Messiah, which was being attacked by the powers of darkness.

As God’s presence seemed to increase, David voiced his thoughts.

“Why do people conspire and devise schemes against me, Your anointed one for no reason, Lord? Kings continually want to defy me and gather together against You.”

In David’s seriousness and anxiety, all of a sudden God was laughing. He was sure of it. He felt the untapped delight rise up and it startled him. But the laughter continued and soon it seemed as if all of heaven was exploding with its contagious joy. He could not help but laugh too. It seemed that the One true king, the Lord, enthroned in heaven, laughs and shows His contempt for the foolishness of men, but he was also aware that God also rebukes them in His anger, terrifying them by His wrath. God spoke clearly to David in words that gave him such hope and inspiration. He said, “I have established My King on Zion, My holy hill. You are My son, and today I have become Your Father. Ask Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession. You will rule them with an iron sceptre, dashing them to pieces like pottery. Let kings be wise and be warned. Serve Me with fear and tremble as you rejoice. Blessed are all those who take refuge in Me.”

As the vision continued David saw a huge battleground, filled with enemy forces, jeering and threatening him. The enemy were not human but creatures, rulers and authorities of other realms, powers of the dark. Somehow he recognised the evil smell that wafted from their ranks.

The Lord spoke to the kings of the earth in this vision. He said, “Who will fight for Me?” Only David stepped forward. Other kings seemed not even to have heard the voice of God. He was afraid, but he said, “I will, my Lord! If You are with me.”

Immediately he was equipped for battle against these spiritual forces of evil, and as he knelt before the Lord he was anointed with a fragrant oil. The fragrance was familiar. It had been mixed up in a certain way which no-one could imitate and even the enemy knew, as God poured it on David’s head, that he was being consecrated, dedicated to God’s service as a king, and set apart for God’s service as holy. Only prophets, priests and kings were anointed with oil in this way. And as the oil flowed over him David knew that God was pouring out His Spirit upon him, so that he could fulfil his responsibility as king and be all that God intended him to be. The fragrance infiltrated the enemy ranks and they began to stir uneasily as God said,

“I am pouring My protection over you. It will surround you, for the Lord saves His anointed. and just as you honoured the anointing upon Saul, though he was evil, so too I have anointed you with honour for righteousness. You are My servant. I will sustain you and strengthen you. I will answer you as you pray. The enemy you see before you will not bring you under subjection or make you pay tribute, for I will crush them before you, as you strike them down.”

The Lord’s voice once more rang clearly, “My faithful love will be with you, forever and through My name you will be exalted. My covenant with you will never fail. I will establish your family line forever, and your throne as long as the heavens endure.”

David was overcome with an aching gratitude and love for the Lord and cried out with words which seemed so inadequate, “You are my Father, My God, the Rock on which I stand, and My Saviour!”

Again David sensed the importance of this battle. Somehow it would be a war that would take place in the heavens, beyond his ability to comprehend. It would be an important battle and the issue, it seemed, had something to do with his family line – his sons and his son’s sons, because somehow God would extend his kingdom forever. On the day that this battle would take place, all eternity would be hanging in the balance.

The anointing was a refreshing and purifying anointing. It’s expensive perfume brought great joy to David and he could feel it healing him of all sorrow and pain. It took away the stench of the enemy spread out before him.

The Lord said, “I have anointed you for battle. Break-through the enemy lines! Run in such a way as to have victory!” As He spoke it seemed that the very words were spoken into his being.

David could see the nations of the earth behind the enemy lines, bound with chains and blindfolded, struggling to break free. He began to walk and then run forward, sword in hand towards the enemy, shouting words of victory in the Name of the Lord.

The picture of one man running against such insurmountable odds seemed ridiculous. The enemy began to laugh as he came and soon thousands of the evil host were jeering at him. The roar of callous taunts tumbled across the plain and sounded like a raucous mob milling around the stoning of a common criminal.

As David moved closer he could see that the enemy was armed with every weapon imaginable, round shields, long broadswords, lances, and triangular daggers. They looked very warlike. Each of the leaders wore what looked like feathered headdresses. David ran closer with the sword that God had given him clutched in his hand. And as he ran, he knew that he would not become another prisoner of war, trapped in the snares of the enemy. God was with him and as he ran forward, he would overcome the enemy and free the captive nations. He would not be caught off guard or be wounded. He cried out from the depths of his heart, “Lord, I am ready!”

The hordes of darkness seemed also to be ready. They gathered in the valley of Rephaim and spread themselves out across the plain. David could see their leader now urging them towards him. He was commanding his full forces against David. They wanted David specifically. He could hear their curses clearly now.

The Lord said, “Behold, your adversary! Beware of his deceit.”

Thousands of the enemy seemed to roll across the plain like a huge river, pounding the earth and shouting as they came. David felt the surge of adrenaline race through his veins but the presence of God obliterated the last traces of fear as he charged towards them.

In a rush, he was face to face with their mighty leader, and the evil hordes, like horns on the head of a huge charging bull, were beginning to enfold him on either side. He was now well within striking distance. This giant of a creature lifted its gigantic sword. It’s eyes were the eyes of a lion as it clutches for it’s prey, intense, focused, determined and full of malevolent fury. It seemed as if David’s weapons would be useless against such overpowering strength and he lifted his sword in defence as the creature’s blade came whistling through the air towards him.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Chapter 14

The man who was thrown at Obed-edom’s feet was tied by the hands and had obviously been beaten. His swollen and bruised face gave evidence that he had resisted capture. Obed-edom knew the man. He was a sentry from one of the Philistine fortresses near his own village and he wondered why he had not been killed.

“Take care of this man. I may need him later,” said Joab to Obed-edom roughly and then turning to his own men he said, “Don’t let him out of your sight or you will answer to me.”

Obed-edom took the man back to the house, lay him on a mat on the floor and cleaned the man’s wounded face with clean water. While he did this he sought to find out from him what was happening in Philistia. The man was unable to speak coherently for some time.

“Why didn’t they kill you?” asked Obed-edom when the man was suitably recovered.

“Because they wanted information from me about the movements of our army.”

“Did you tell them anything?”

“I had no choice,” said the soldier. Obed-edom was disgusted and the soldier sought to justify his actions. “They would have killed me if I had remained silent. It won’t make any difference anyway.”

“What do you mean?”

“As long as we remain alive, we will be free in the next few days. Already the whole of the Philistine army is gathering together at the valley of Rephaim against Israel. Molech will have his vengeance.”

Obed-edom shuddered. He had not expected that his freedom would come in such a way as this, and after so many years of captivity he was surprised that he did not feel any sense of relief. As he looked at Barzillai giving instructions to his sons, he wondered what lay ahead, not with a sense of hope but with dread. He knew how cruel his Philistine overlords would be as they swept through Israel, raping the women and killing or torturing the men and children.

Apart from being circumcised, Obed-edom and his sons had been treated well by Joab and Barzillai, and although it had taken some years for him to learn the language of the people of Israel, in time he had been able to communicate some of his more advanced methods of smithing. He had proved himself to be a faithful servant, eventually earning the right to have slaves under his authority.

Trustworthy slaves were given a great deal of freedom and he was eventually able to conduct business of his own under his master’s control. He had watched carefully for opportunities to escape, but Joab was a careful administrator of his slaves and the only real chances Obed-edom had been while Joab was away at war. Somehow Obed-edom had always waited for better opportunities. He had told himself that he did not want to endanger the lives of his sons, but in truth he had come to respect the king and people of this nation and life was somehow fulfilling.

Now it seemed that soon he and his sons would once again to be involved in making Philistia a great nation, free from the invading influences of king David and his God. Once again he would serve Molech the terrible and a host of other gods. He tried not to think of his misgivings but they overwhelmed him and he felt extremely depressed.

As David and Joab went to war from Jerusalem Obed-edom found himself desperately empty inside. He was not able to concentrate on even the simplest of duties that day and Barzillai had been frustrated with him. The two of them had worked closely together for some years and Obed-edom had always been reliable.

“I cannot do my work if you do not do yours,” Barzillai said.

“I am sorry, my friend,” said Obed-edom “I have been pre-occupied with thoughts about king David’s war with my people and I can’t help but wonder at the outcome of the next few days. Perhaps it would be better if both of us had escaped some years ago.”

“I could never go back to serving the demon gods of my fathers,” said Barzillai, “I have come to know the one true God and Him only will I serve and if I must die then I am in His hands. Besides, God will protect king David. Before Joab left, he told me that God has promised David deliverance. You should be more concerned about your own people.” Obed-edom could not continue the conversation. Despair seemed to seep through into his very soul. David was vastly outnumbered and the Philistines had superior weapons.

That night as he returned home he decided to walk along the track that led to the mine. The guards let him pass. He had long been given the freedom to come and go as he needed to in this area. He walked to the top of the hill and looked out over the mountainous terrain. There in a secluded place between some large rocks he began to weep and pray for the first time to the God of Israel.

“God of David, have mercy upon me, a slave, for I have sinned against You!” he cried out and in that barren place a deep sense of the presence of God seemed to encompass him and he suddenly found himself lying prostrate, crying out that God would spare king David and his master Joab. For hours, he remained there interceding until the dark secret places of his heart were completely laid bare before God.

“Oh, God,” he groaned “You once took slaves from Egypt and brought them to this land. Now take this slave and release me from the captivity I have felt within. Release me from the power of Molech and let me serve You. Have mercy upon me and forgive me for I can no longer follow the ways of my people or my gods.” Then it seemed like something broke deep inside with an almost audible ring as the shackles of his heart seemed to fall away.

That night a smelting furnace was lit within his soul and all the dross came to the surface to be skimmed away by God Himself. God was forming something beautiful within him. He was becoming an instrument fashioned by the master craftsman’s hands and he knew that he would never be the same. Still the fire burned, until his spirit awakened in the flame and he reached his hands upward in praise to his maker. He had attended the sacrifices made for Barzillai’s family. Now he desperately wanted to make an offering himself for his own sins and the sins of his own family. For the first time in his life, he felt free of the burdens of his own sin. It all seemed to make sense to him as he raised his hands and his heart towards the heavens that night.

The next day he rose early and prayed. It was a Sabbath day and his sons were astonished, but out of respect they did not question his strange behaviour. Then as soon as Barzillai was awake, Obed-edom began directing a series of questions at him.

“Is it possible for me to serve and worship the God of Israel like you do?”

“Of course it is possible.” said Barzillai.

“Then what must I do? I must act immediately. God has met with me last night and I must know how I can serve Him before we are defeated by my people the Philistines.” said Obed-edom with a desperate look of concern in his eyes. Barzillai laughed.

“This sounds serious. We will talk with one of the priests, but I suggest you don’t mention being overrun by the Philistines. They may object. In the meantime, relax.” Barzillai and Obed-edom looked at each other. These two old men already had a mutual respect which had developed over the years and the seeds of friendship had also grown. Barzillai hugged his old companion who began to weep. Many tears would come in the days ahead which would purge the years of desolation he had lived without God.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS!

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Pastor Ross Cochrane

Introduction

In the book of 2 Samuel in the Bible is the account of an incredibly handsome young man, aching with the ambition to be king, whose name was Absalom. He was one of the sons of king David in whose reign this story takes place.

Soon after king Saul died, Saul’s son Ish-bosheth was installed by Abner, Saul’s general, as a puppet king over the Northern tribes of Israel. David reigned over Judah at first but his forces, under the leadership of Joab, were defeating Abner, paving the way for David to become king of both Israel and Judah.

This is the historical setting from which our story begins to unfold.

 

CHAPTER 1

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

The old man carried out his work with the skill that had made him a master of his craft. For 200 years, his family had carried on the traditions and mystery of the ironsmith. Obed-edom took pride in his work. His sons were learning from his many years of experience and they would continue to refine the secrets of this art for many years to come.

His sons had selected the ore from the quarry, their trained eyes choosing only the heavy ferrous coloured rocks which would be forged into the finest articles. Using wedges and fire, they split the larger rock faces, taking extreme care in what material they selected because their father would require only the purest ore with which to work and they had already been punished for bringing ore containing too much foreign matter.

Then they began crushing the rock on stone anvils, washing it with water from clay pots as they went, and handpicking the richest supplies of ore to be placed in baskets ready to be carried to the furnaces.

While they worked, some of the slaves were creating 10 charcoal pits, cutting and burning the wood and controlling the heat with layers of earth and water.

Overseen by the old master smith, other slaves began to mix crushed seashells and limestone with charcoal so that it could be used as a flux for the ore in the furnace.

It was at this point that Obed-edom gave the orders for the clay kilns to be built, 10 in all, above the charcoal pits and placed evenly, encircling the top of the gently sloped clearing of the hill. The largest pit, in the centre of the hill, was constructed first and reserved for the fire of Molech. From it’s flames fire would be introduced to the other kilns.

Gradually the dome-shaped kilns, like a nest of pre-historic eggs buried in the sand on their ends, were formed. Each dome was filled from the top with layers of iron ore, charcoal, limestone and ground seashells. Towards the bottom of the egg-shaped kilns was an opening into which the nozzle of a leather bellows was introduced.

Only the central furnace of Molech would be used to forge the household idols and the various amulets and talisman which would accompany the Philistine warriors to war. From such a kiln, Obed-edom had formed the weapons for the giant called Goliath in years gone by – the finest instruments of war, made by the most experienced craftsman in Philistia.

When the kilns were complete the old smith nodded to the priest who had been muttering occultic words continuously as the construction had been taking place, in an ecstatic state, to appease the spirits of iron. Molech would demand a human sacrifice to be made to ensure the success of the smelting and fashioning of weapons. Only a human life could give birth to the weapons of victory and life to the idols which would be created from the egg-shaped furnace.

Obed-edom watched as the priest introduced fire through the jaw-like opening of the central kiln, and two of his sons pumped the leather bellows until sweat poured from their skin and their muscles ached with exhaustion and others had to replace them. A smokey haze washed over the hill and was spirited away on the breeze. The Israelite raiding party saw it from miles away and moved relentlessly to its source.

At the height of the celebration as the Philistine warriors gathered, chanting and shouting their prayers and drinking the fermented potions that they hoped would make them invincible in the coming war, a newborn baby, a child of one of the temple prostitutes was brought to be cast into the central jaws of the furnace.

For a moment, there was silence and each man felt the superstitious trembling that accompanied such an act, and then the chanting and shouting reached its crescendo as each man cut into his arms and chest with daggers to draw blood and work themselves into a demonic frenzy as the gruesome sacrifice was made.

Then it was time to release the metal from the kilns. Each warrior waited with anticipation and awe as Obed-edom, the master smith, eyes red from the smoke of the furnaces, released a small plug from the bottom of the central kiln and a flow of molten metal, a glowing yoke from the egg-shaped dome spilt out into a moulded crucible.

Soon the air would be filled with the sound of hammers as Obed-edom and his sons beat out the metal from the other kilns into blades of war, teeth of the wolf; long-swords and daggers that would be tested in the midst of battle.

After the slag had been drawn off from the metal of the central kiln Obed-edom began to fashion a small weapon from the purest of metal. It was skillfully hammered into shape and for some reason he found himself trembling with excitement at the surging hiss as the dagger’s point and blade were tempered with water. He continued with a polishing stone on the blade until the metal shone with a burnished lustre.

The hilt had already been selected from a piece of ivory obtained from traders and he had carved it especially for this purpose. He attached it to the shaft with such precision that it hardly needed to be bound and then continued to carve the image upon the hilt with smaller tools. He worked on the hilt of the weapon meticulously. This was no ordinary weapon. It had been borne from the jaws of molech’s furnace where life had been given to give it power. It would be presented to one of the Philistine overlords, or better still to a king or prince. It was a formidable weapon, well balanced with a razor sharp edge. The image on the hilt was carefully rendered to portray savage terror. Somehow it reflected the unexpressed rage that burned in his heart towards the priests and their human sacrifices and even towards Molech himself.

From the shelter of the trees and rocks surrounding the hill the Israelite commander, Joab, watched the proceedings and positioned his men.

Genesis 26:1-17 – LIAR LIAR!

Liar! Liar!

I will always remember him. He lay in a bed seat, slightly twisted and looking at me with one eye half open. I was finishing a small Bible study devotional with a group of aged people. With a croaky voice filled with the bile of his past and exposed by his dementia he shouted “He’s a fraud! He’s a fraud! Don’t listen to him! Don’t listen to him! He only wants your money! He’s a fraud!” It was disconcerting to say the least.

The Bible says that it is the devil who is a LIAR and a FRAUD! John 8:44 (NLT) “…He has always HATED THE TRUTH, because there is NO TRUTH IN HIM. When he LIES, it is consistent with his character; for he is a LIAR AND THE FATHER OF LIES.”

REBEKAH WAS BEAUTIFUL. Rebekah had been married for many years to Isaac but she could still turn the heads of men wherever she went. I am sure she wasn’t trying to do this, but she was the Audrey Hepburn of the ancient world (What do you mean you don’t remember Audrey Hepburn? How about Sophia Loren? OK, Catherine Zeta-Jones or some other aging movie star?)

I don’t know what it was about the Philistines, but Isaac didn’t trust them. He thought they would try to kill him just because he had a beautiful wife. Where did that thought come from? Even if I go through a bad part of town, I don’t expect to die just because my wife is beautiful. This passage has never made any sense to me. Isaac’s life in Genesis 26 is looking like a B grade RE-RUN of an old movie from Genesis 12:13 and Genesis 20:2.

Anyway, he passes Rebekah off as his SISTER. How this protects Isaac, I don’t know! It certainly puts Rebekah in danger. What kind of a husband does this? What is he trying to do? How is a brother any safer than a husband? And how did Rebekah feel about all this? She is the one most in danger!

You know the story. Abimelech sees Isaac caressing Rebekah and he confronts them. I like Abimelech. He has more character here than Isaac. He gives orders to his men not to touch Rebekah or Isaac (Genesis 26:8). Abimelech is more willing to protect Rebekah than Isaac. Is Isaac some kind of wimp who has to have a Philistine fight to protect his wife? Abimelech is more aware of sexual sin. He doesn’t want the guilt to rest on his men should they try to sleep with Rebekah because of Isaac’s deception. Where did he get such a healthy respect for God and being judged for sin? If he lived today would he have still had such a conscience? HE LOOKS MORE LIKE THE BELIEVER THAN ISAAC!

Well done Abimelech! At least he has some form of integrity which is more than I can say for Isaac. Isaac JUSTIFIES HIS LIE to Abimelech because he thought his life would be endangered by telling people he is married to this beautiful woman. Why do we think that we need to LIE in order for God to keep us safe? I mean, do we really think that God needs me to SIN in order for Him to help us? Der!

Isaac shows me that I can move to a different part of the country and still find myself in the same place spiritually. I can get a little older and still be just as immature. Maturity has nothing to do with aging. Believe me, I know. ROUND AND AROUND. The sins of the father.

God wants me to love my wife and respect her enough to protect her and our marriage. That alone will provide a great example for others, and apart from anything else my wife is worth risking death for. How would I respond in a situation like this? I’d like to think that I would come out of it with my WITNESS and my MARRIAGE intact, but I know that anyone is capable of falling. Lord, protect my marriage and my witness for both our sakes.

The false accusations of an old man crying out “You’re a fraud!” hurt me but they also made me realize that I need to stay close to Christ who is the Truth and to His Word, the Bible. 1 Corinthians 10:12 in the Message version says “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.” Galatians 6:7 says “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always REAP WHAT YOU SOW.”

Jesus said “I am the way, the TRUTH and the life…” (John 14:6). He is my Truth. He enables me to live a life of INTEGRITY. With Christ in my life I am able to live how God intends me to live and be GENUINE before Him and others and even myself, WITHOUT HYPROCRISY. Nothing fraudulent about that!

Lord, KEEP ME FROM EVIL so that I don’t bring disrepute to You or others or to myself. Let me live righteously before you today and in the joy of my salvation. Let me be a blessing to others today and live a life without hypocrisy.

God bless you as He replaces the habits of a lifetime with the habits of Holy living and the harvest of a fruitful life in Christ. In Him, you are not a FRAUD but a FORGIVEN, FAULTLESS, FAITH-FILLED FRIEND OF GOD, through Christ who strengthens you.

Pastor Ross