Tag Archives: David

Sermon – Upper Clyde Parish Church, Sunday 12 August 2018

If you remember, last Sunday we thought about words that don’t have loving actions being empty and meaningless.

We considered the damage that vicious, sarcastic, cruel words can have.

And we referenced what James wrote in his letter about the tongue being a deadly weapon, insofar as while it can be used to praise God and our neighbours, it can also ignite (as it were) a forest fire.

Remember his words, “the tongue is a small part of the body…..”. Then adds “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body”

But how many folk have we come across, who destroy others with their, slander, mockery, spite and malice?

It even extends to those who are supposedly Christians.

When I was the NHS healthcare chaplain for NHS Dumfries and Galloway, my first office at the Infirmary also had the patient print out list for ministers who were visiting their Parishioners.

One in particular was a right joker…. or so he thought.

Now, it’s probably not escaped your attention that I’m more like Zacchaeus in stature than Goliath!

The visiting clergyman would usually say, on coming into this shared office- “don’t get up (oh you are!).”

One conversation somehow got round to my not drinking milk (I was probably making a cup of coffee at the time)

“You don’t drink milk – what not even CONDENSED milk?”

Oh how we chuckled!

Especially when he added, “But, surely, you’re going to have some SHORTbread with your cuppa!”

This was a few years ago, of course – and I’m still 5 feet 5”…………..


………………And sadly…… he’s now 6 feet under!!!!

Oh, I mentioned Goliath…. and that brings me to David, the shepherd boy who became a King.

David was the youngest of Jesse’s sons. His brothers were obvious choices for kingship, in that they were big brawny lads.

But David was held in such low regard by his own family that he wasn’t even invited to the ceremony organised by Samuel.

In fact, he was out in the fields looking after the sheep – the work of a servant.

And look at this: David isn’t even mentioned by name. His father refers to him only as “the youngest” such was the low esteem in which he seems to have been held.

How did his brothers react. Who knows. But they were there, we’re told, when he was anointed.

My guess is that either they couldn’t care less, or worse, made fun of someone whom they considered a butt for their jokes and teasing.

In today’s society, it is so often the apparently weakest who are targets for mockery or abuse.
This spirit of mockery is spreading like wildfire at home, school, college, with youngsters especially suffering online or actual bullying.! Mocking, teasing, criticising and humiliating the victim are corrosive.
When my late wife, Helen, underwent not-too-wonderful reconstruction at a certain hospital in Livingston, she was drugged up to the eyeballs with morphine, other heavy duty analgesics as befits such radical surgery and the emotional trauma that is coterminous with it.

After a couple of nights – post operation – she got out of her bed, opened the door and, in a total daze, wandered down the corridor toward the exit.

The crackle of dimwit nurses at the station, looking up from comparing their “adventures” and showing off their latest phone photos, suddenly noticed this disorientated woman heading toward the door.

“What are you doing, Helen?” patronisingly

“I need to speak to my husband”

“Back to bed with you”

No suggestion that they would phone me in the morning to say that she was distressed.

The next morning, she apologised.

And the response: “Don’t worry – it gave us all a good laugh!”

A good laugh?

Probably the same kind of mentality that would have had them visiting “lunatic asylums”, as they were called in those days, to look at the patients shouting and dribbling and “doing tricks” (unintentionally).

Rich Londoners flocked to Bedlam to laugh at the antics of the inmates: a visit to the madhouse was a good day out, ranking with a public execution and featuring in all the popular tourist guides.

Why don’t we all have a laugh at those with emotional, mental or physical disabilities?

Do you remember that most moving film, “The Elephant Man”?

It tells the true story of Joseph Carey Merrick. He was an urbane and intelligent man with very severe deformities who was first exhibited at a freak show as the “Elephant Man”

Merrick was born in Leicester, and began to develop abnormally during the first few years of his life: his skin appeared thick and lumpy, he developed enlarged lips, and a bony lump grew on his forehead, one of his arms and both of his feet became enlarged and at some point during his childhood he fell and damaged his hip, resulting in permanent lameness.

This “freak” was exhibited as some kind of monstrosity for the amusement of the punters at a freak show, where he was mocked and laughed at.

However, he was rescued from this appalling cruelty by a doctor, Frederick Treves, and went on to become well known in society circles in London

The Elephant man…….in the name of entertainment.

How easy for many people to have a laugh at those who are not “normal” (aye, but there’s the rub: what is normality and just who is “normal” here?)

And it’s not something from the politically incorrect past.

The ancient comic tradition of mocking people’s impairments is still going strong today.

Should we be laughing at, for example, Jack Douglas’s comic turns in the Carry On films for resembling epileptic fits and Ronnie Barker’s character Arkwright in Open All Hours for using his stutter to get a cheap laugh.

There’s also a tradition in British comedy dating from Shakespeare to laugh at characters’ lack of intellect.

But that’s fiction……how about reality?

Dr Tom Shakespeare of the University of Newcastle explained that: “People have always found those who look different or behave differently to be figures of fun. It’s a way to bolster your own social norms by denigrating others.”
On one occasion, many moons ago, I was at a particular conference for mental health care chaplains and one of the “guest” speakers told a “joke” along similar lines to this:

“I was walking past the mental hospital the other day, and all the patients were shouting ,’13….13….13′

“The fence was too high to see over, but I saw a little gap in the planks and looked through to see what was going on.

“Somebody poked me in the eye with a stick.

“Then they all started shouting ’14….14….14”

One of my mental health care chaplaincy colleagues – a sensitive and caring man – looked at the lecturer, and very quietly and in measured tones, said, “Who is that ‘joke’ directed at?”

Laugh with; never laugh at

Remember – from our story about David being chosen:

Man judges by the outward looks, but God looks at the heart

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A search committee discusses possible applicants for a vacant Charge

Adam: Good man, but problems with his wife. Also, one reference told of how his wife and he enjoy walking naked in the garden.

Noah: Former pastorate of 120 years, with no converts. Prone to unrealistic building projects.

Moses: A modest and meek man, but poor communicator, even stuttering at times. Sometimes blows his stack and acts rashly. Some say he left an earlier position over a murder charge.

David: The most promising leader of all, until we discovered the affair he had with his neighbour’s wife.

Solomon: Great preacher, but our manse would never hold all those wives. 

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David (via George Takei)


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May 3, 2016 · 11:40

Hope for all


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October 30, 2014 · 21:40


I want one!

The most famous name in motorcycling. A legend. An evolution.
With the latest Triumph Bonneville you’re riding over 50 years of engineering excellence. A thoroughly modern interpretation of the definitive ‘proper’ motorcycle, this iconic symbol of rebellion and independence is even more accessible thanks to its low and narrow seat, clean and efficient fuel-injected engine and lightweight 17 inch alloy wheels for even sharper handling.
An air-cooled parallel-twin as only a Bonneville can be, the 865cc unit employs modern fuel injection technology for clean running and excellent economy.

Question: What kind of motor vehicles are in the Bible?Answer: Yahweh drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden in a Fury.David’s Triumph was heard throughout the land.Honda… because the apostles were all in one Accord.

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August 7, 2013 · 19:11

from “Beliefs of the Heart” blog – Heroes of the Faith

The wonder of the gospel is not the love of the beautiful; it’s when Beauty kisses the Beast.

The Beast isn’t loved because he has changed; the Beast is changed when he is loved. Joy doesn’t come when he’s loved for his beauty; joy overwhelms him when he is loved in his hideousness.

If the Beast were loved for his beauty, it would be an unbearable burden. Any day he might be scarred, and soon he will certainly be a wrinkled old man.

So why do we burden our children with the unbearable load of “being good little boys and girls like the heroes in the Bible”? We wouldn’t load a pack mule with the burdens we place on our children.

There’s gotta be a better way

Let’s teach the wonder of the gospel. Let’s show our kids that God loves us … simply because he loves us. In our beastliness. That he loves us before we are good.

That his love isn’t vague sentimentality, but it cost him his most precious treasure to turn us into his prized possession; that the storyline of the Bible is God’s Search and Rescue mission to find the dying Beast and kiss him into joyous life.

  • How Abraham was an idol worshiper and God loved him and pursued him;
  • How Joseph was a narcissistic boy and God loved him and pursued him;
  • How David was a murdering adulterer and God loved him and pursued him;
  • How Esther had sex outside of marriage with a non-believer and God loved her and pursued her.

Our heroes weren’t loved because they were good; they were good because they were loved.

We may believe in the innocence of youth, but our children know better. They see the children in the schoolyard (and they see us at home!). They don’t need the counterfeit gospel of pack-mule-moralism; they need the kiss of the Beauty.

Maybe we do too. Besides, it’s what the Bible in fact teaches.

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Rush to Judgement

Some years ago this happened on a London-bound train

A ticket inspector came across an elderly man – shabbily dressed and somewhat disreputable looking – sitting in a first-class compartment of the train.

This was OBVIOUSLY not a first-class traveller, and, indeed, when asked for his ticket, the old fellow fumbled in his pocket for a few minutes – but without finding it.

The inspector then told the man that he’d give him five more minutes to find it.  He then left the compartment, but instead of checking out the other passengers, he waited at the end of the corridor, certain that the old chap would make a sharp exit at the next station.

But he didn’t.  When next approached, the old man was full of apologies as he produced the necessary ticket.

On arrival at Euston, the inspector spotted him on the platform, beckoning to a porter to help him with his luggage.

But, when halfway towards him, the porter suddenly changed direction to take the luggage of a very smart and expensively dressed woman.

Seeing this happen, and feeling ashamed of misjudging the elderly shabbily dressed man, the inspector volunteered to carry his cases.

At the taxi rank, the old man took out his wallet and handed the inspector a very generous tip.

Then he said, ‘Do me a favour – tell that porter what I gave you for carrying my luggage, and then tell him never to judge a book by its cover’

The inspector agreed, found the porter, and told him what had happened.

‘Well,’ replied the porter, ‘should you see that gentleman again, tell him that the well dressed lady, whose case I carried, is blind.

‘She’s a regular traveller, and, whenever I’m free, I help her and NEVER take a penny for it.  Tell him to apply his words to himself!’

How often we reach quick and easy conclusions – so often based on how a person looks or behaves or where he or she comes from – and how often we get it wrong.

We are too quick, too ready, to rush to judgement

If the reapers in Christ’s parable had had their way, they would have tried to tear out the weeds – and that would have meant tearing out the good wheat with them.

Judgement, says Jesus, should be left to the final harvest – in God’s time.

The only person to judge is God himself.

There’s a story told in the Old Testament about Samuel, who was directed by God to find and anoint a new King for Israel.

Samuel went to Bethlehem to look at the sons of a man named Jesse.  He looked at all of them, and some we’re told were handsome and strong and the likeliest of candidates…but, in the end, it was Jesse’s youngest son, a boy called David who was out in the fields looking after the sheep, who was to be God’s favourite.  The least likely son became King.

But, as that Old Testament story tells us ‘Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart’

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Psalm-enchanted evening


an illustration of King David playing the Psalms

Psalm 23 – “The Message” Translation

1-3 God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.


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