Wednesday, May 07, 2014

1 Chronicles 18-21 The six fingered man

From 1 Chronicles 18-21


1 Chr 18.1-13; David; David Defeats His Enemies
1 Chr 18.14-17; David; David’s Administration
1 Chr 19.1-9; David; The Ammonites Disgrace David’s Men
1 Chr 19.10-19; David; Ammonites and Syrians Defeated
1 Chr 20.1-3; David; The Capture of Rabbah
1 Chr 20.4-8; David; Philistine Giants Killed
1 Chr 21.1-17; David; David’s Census Brings Pestilence
1 Chr 21.18-22.1; David; David Builds an Altar

Passage and Comments

David successfully transported the ark to Jerusalem and gave thanks to the LORD by singing a song. The people then departed to their houses happy and David returned to his own house to bless it.

After a while David comments that he resides in a house but ark of the LORD is still in a tent. The LORD speaks to Nathan the prophet and instructs him in what to say to David. The LORD gives David a subtle rebuke. If he wanted a house he would have asked for it. The LORD then describes all he has done for David so far and further promises to bless him by raising up one of his sons and establishing his throne forever. David is overwhelmed by the kindness of the LORD and gives thanks.

Following this David resumes fighting with the Philistines and he defeats them. He takes on the Moabites and kicks their butt. Then he exchanges hostilities with the Syrians and they get plastered. Finally the Edomites have a crack at the title and they likewise get powned. David plunders all their wealth and dedicates a large amount to the LORD.

Our passage today is one such battle where David’s forces meet a remarkable adversary.

4 And after this there arose war with the Philistines at Gezer. Then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Sippai, who was one of the descendants of the giants, and the Philistines were subdued. (1 Chr 20.4)

There seem to be a lot of giants around. I assume they probably stood seven foot tall and were built like tanks. David’s had experience with these guys before. His name was Goliath. They are formidable opponents, but with the LORD they have their soft spots. This giant is Sippai. He still fell in the end and the Philistines were subdued.

5 And there was again war with the Philistines, and Elhanan the son of Jair struck down Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. (1 Chr 20.5)

A weavers beam is a large spear with a noose around the middle used to throw it long distances. This verse presents some textual problems. According to 2 Sam 21:19, Elhanan slew Goliath. The text of 2 Sam 21:19 names the father of Elhanan as Jaareoregim. (Thompson, J. A. (1994). 1, 2 Chronicles (Vol. 9, p. 157). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)

Now we meet the remarkable adversary.

6 And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants. 7 And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, struck him down. 8 These were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants. (1 Chr 20.6-8)
The Princess Bride is an adventure/romance/comedy that has an interesting take on a six fingered man. A man named Inigo Montoya (played by Mandy Patinkin) tells Westley (Matt Spease) about his plan to avenge his father's murder: "The next time we meet, I will not fail. I will go up to the six fingered man and say, 'Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.'"

In the biblical narrative the six fingered man is more remarkable. He has six toes on each foot and is a giant. Perhaps he could play the piano we don’t know. But he like all the other enemies of Israel was defeated in the end.

Story of Israel

I expect that most of the people in the bible are normal, average, everyday just like we see around us now. Albeit with cultural differences. But every so often we see someone who stands out in the story like this six fingered man.

The irony I think is that, more often than not the strange ones are God’s people. Moses had a speech impediment. Some of the judges were unsociable delinquents. Im thinking of Samson in particular. Ezekiel ate cows dung and stayed on his side for days on end. Jeremiah went around crying. Daniel was a vegan. John the Baptist and the other prophets wore animal hair for clothing. I think on average the scriptures portray God’s people as stranger than the other nations.

Story of Jesus

Jesus called a few strange people to follow him.

10 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Mt 10:1–4)

When I think of Simon-Peter, I have an image of Homer Simpson. Loud, big, brash. James and John, the sons of thunder. Known for their anger. Thomas, seemingly a skeptic doubting what most would believe. Matthew, a tax collector who made his living taking money, giving some to the government, some for himself. Simon the Zealot, resistance fighter against the Romans. Judah, lover of money and betrayer.

Yet Jesus still called them all to himself, like he calls us.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor 1:26–31)