Noble Subjects at War with the Culture

Did Tom Brady order the footballs deflated?

No one knows because the legal case was not about the footballs.  Very swiftly the legal debate became about some very different issues and the only thing that was established by the entire court case is that the NFL has better lawyers than Tom Brady.

This is normative for our current culture.  Real issues are swiftly obfuscated by a smog of words about peripheral or irrelevant issues.

The Washington Post complained bitterly about this recently.   They did some investigative reporting showing that since Mr. Trump’s election, foreign power players are heavily booking rooms at his hotels, whether they use them or not, as a way to curry favor.

In other words, it is the same pay-t0-play scam as the Clinton Foundation, only the hotels are for profit.  In both cases, people who wish to influence the US government are finding a way to channel money toward the personal wealth of a government official.  Admittedly, renting hotel rooms you don’t use is utterly legal, but the motive behind the game is still suspect.

The Washington Post story was broadly ignored by the other press.  But the Internet was alive with commentary on the fuss between “Hamilton” and Mr. Pence.  This story had little substance and much emotion and bias, but it was carried by many news sources around the world while the substantive story was ignored.

President Obama bitterly complained that this last campaign was highly distorted. In the past, there were agreed upon facts which served as a basis for vigorous and even hostile debate about what should be done about that state of affairs.

In the last election cycle, there was so much false news and distortion of information that much of the debate was about what the facts of the matter were, not what should be done about it.

His point is very well taken, although he hardly has any high moral ground in terms of the accuracy and completeness of the information his government has made available to the general public.

All that to say, in the midst of a broad collapse of intelligent discussion of real issues, the Noble Subjects at SLG have an opportunity to differentiate from the culture and build a brand as people who are worth listening to.  That will require vigorous discipline to avoid getting sucked into the prevailing distorted discussions and a habit of diligence to find the actual facts of a matter before speaking AND the ability to reason from principle to stimulate valuable discussion around volatile issues.

Against that backdrop, consider the narrative in I Chronicles 12.

Israel was in crisis.  The king that God had publicly selected through the prophet Samuel had been killed in battle.  So had the crown prince.  Those loyal to the deceased king had crowned one of his other sons king, as was culturally proper in the dynastic traditions of that day and time.

But it was not as simple as the succession of kings.  There was also in the picture an illegitimate child from the wife of the Ammonite king, Nahash, who had been in and out of the court of King Saul, always surrounded by controversy.  Lately he had been operating a terrorist group in the wilderness.

Meanwhile, because the terrorist was highly charismatic, and because the former king had been quite inept and capricious in certain facets of his administration, some of the populace backed the terrorist as the new king.

This, of course, was at the very least an act of treason and most likely would precipitate a civil war.

All of this was happening in the aftermath of crushing defeat by a chronically hostile neighboring country, leaving Israel with a shattered army and a moribund economy.

On the one hand, there was little reason to think the new king would be able to defeat the foreign invader with any more ease than the previous king.  The outlaw was quite brilliant with his guerrilla warfare and had achieved some storied victories against the neighboring barbarians back in the day.

On the other hand, starting a civil war when you have barbarians at the gate is hardly an inspiring political move.

Furthermore, the charismatic terrorist had an unsavory reputation with women, and tended to gather around himself some very rough characters.  If he was promoted to king, he would undoubtedly fill his administration with the riffraff who were loyal to him but who had no political experience whatsoever.

The nation’s first experience with the emerging oligarchy was sufficiently distressing that the tide of public opinion swung in the direction of the populist who had charmed his way into the hearts of many.

So there was an illegitimate gathering of the movers and shakers from the various tribes who were willing to back him in a civil war.  Each tribe’s contribution was measured in numbers of bodies.  The disparities were remarkable.

The tribe of Zebulon, which historically avoided the lime light, sent 50,000 warriors.

The tribe of Benjamin which had backed the former king had 3,000 people come unofficially since the tribe was officially with the dynasty of Saul.  Still, that was an impressive break from precedence, since it meant those 3,000 could not go home for the duration of the civil war, lest they be killed for treason.  Their families were at risk, and their lands were surely expropriated for this courageous act of independent thinking.

The claimant’s own tribe, the largest in land and population, sent a paltry 6,800.  He had some powerful enemies in his home turf.

Interestingly the tribe of Issachar was listed as follows:  “Men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do— 200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command.”

The body count did not matter.  All that mattered were the numbers of leaders, and they were leaders not because of military expertise, but because they could assess the messy situation and know the right way forward, through all the smog of propaganda.


I neither know nor care how many people consider themselves part of the SLG tribe.  But I sure would love to contribute 200 thinkers to this current culture of opinionated twisted thinkers.

With that in mind, I will be posting concept articles from time to time.  I will deliberately frame them so that there is not an easy “right” answer.  My objective is to equip you to ponder, discuss in depth without rancor and to learn the art of leadership through making hard decisions that will earn the respect of those closest to you.

Copyright November 2016 by Arthur Burk





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20 Responses to Noble Subjects at War with the Culture

  1. Maggie says:

    I intend to study 1 Chronicles to get a deeper grasp of the politics of this violent world we are in. May God help us all. I hope to maintain some joy while allowing the Holy Spirit to bring some more of His grief for true repentance.

    • Maggie says:

      Umm am I to understand that we should compare Donald Trump with King David. As an Australian I have long since dissociated myself from politics ( 40 years since saved), so I personally do not look to the USA for any kind of leadership because I look to the invisible only wise omnipotent Father who did in fact raise up David as King. It pains me to compare a sensitive psalmist to a capitalist Mexican- hater. If there is something to learn it may be to just revert to the New Testament admonition to always pray a for those in positions of political authority in the earth. There will be a New Year, new battles, new victories for the only Wise God.

      • SLG says:

        Maggie, the point of the story was to compare our national transition to the transition that Israel went through and to ask whether we are leaders or followers. I certainly was not trying to make a tight parallel between David and Donald Trump. I absolutely agree with you that there is much about Trump that is far, far from my values.

        However, in the interest of integrity, I am going to push back on your frame of David being a “sensitive psalmist.” The reality, recorded by God in Scripture, is that in his guerrilla days, he was horribly cruel. He would attack Philistine towns that had done no violence to Israel and kill every person — men, women and children, all non-combatants — for no reason other than politics and economics. Later, when he conquered Moab, it was not enough to defeat the army, he rounded up the men of the nation and ruthlessly killed one out of ten of them.

        I can find no justification for much of his lifestyle. It went far beyond the common violence of war. And apparently God was offended too for He refused to have David build the Temple for the precise reason that he was a bloody man.

        I am no fan of our current president with his absurd Nobel peace prize, or our future president who promises to create conflict in every way imaginable. I am also ruthlessly honest in looking at David’s life and saying that God’s grace on him was more in spite of David than because of his chioces.

        • Maggie says:

          Thank you Arthur, I am actually amazed and agree with what you have said. I am shocked that I have put David on a pedestal and find the scriptures describing Old Testament battles quite overwhelming, so am looking into studying it further as God is taking blinkers off my eyes! This opens up the area of modern day Zionism and possible political treatment of Palestinians as well perhaps. With political wars for land there is always victimisation. By the way, I do acknowledge your leadership and thank God for it, in fact My concept of the sensitive psalmist is indeed a cliché which I have been in the process of smashing in this hour of commercialism of worship ministries and anointings. It is a great source of deep grief to me and your way of seeing David even as he expresses that violence in the psalms is so true and worthy of a paradigm shift on my part . Yes God’s grace is amazing.

          • SLG says:

            Maggie, when we actually look at the Old Testament, it glorifies a whole lot of things we abhor. For example, most Christians would shudder in horror at the idea of suicide bombers destroying buildings and civilians. But in Sunday School we celebrate the original suicide bomber — Samson — as a godly hero for destroying buildings and civilians by sacrificing his own life. What’s up with that? And how do we position ourselves today in terms of that subject?

            Sunday School stories make for a nice, neat little theology. The Word of God is several things, but nice and neat or nowhere in the list. It is quite challenging to read the Word the way it is actually written and wrestle with it in the contexts of our religious and civil culture.

  2. Kat Shea says:

    Thank you, Arthur~~so many so called “Evangelical” political perspectives (as reported by media) seem so one sided to me, or somehow a fantasy of blind hope. I have that mediator mind set, where I can see both sides, and where they could meet in the middle. But there is always that principle where we know in part. . .and hardly any debates acknowledge our myopic monomania.

    So many of the historical stories in the Bible are set in the midst of huge political intrigue, shrouded in deception, manipulation and demons. I really relate to how Daniel needed to know what was contemporary in his visions as well as what was future. So it’s no different now. . . there are multiple layers and facets, many beyond our grasp. I try to gather information from very diverse sources (hardly ever mainstream media), and piece together the jigsaw puzzle. How do we discern what is dis-information, so we can at least try to see the main picture?

    You tell Bible stories like a true story teller, which has taught me a deeper seeing of how the context gives life to the facts. Zoom out for a God’s eye view, zoom in for what matters to our human perspective like first and second Chronicles. Or zoom out, like the left kidney frames a problem with a God perspective, and zoom in as the right kidney finds the God solution.

    We need to keep our spirit’s eyes open for the signs of the times. None of God’s hero’s were passive. They had ways to seek the Lord thru the Word, or revelation, or dreams, or the prophets, or thru the Urim and Thummin. But we have Holy Spirit with in us, and we need some iron sharpening iron practice in this political arena! I am so looking forward to a discussion that goes beyond the milk to the meat of the matter.

  3. Hanna says:

    THANK YOU in advance. I am very much looking forward to these articles and the transformation that will be produced in us and then through us.

  4. dkelly221 says:

    I’m excited for the growth that has to come from this challenge. Thank you for your willingness to invest in us.

  5. Love the reasoning but not sure 100% on board with the parallels. Have been in Chapter 11 myself the last several months so will move forward with thoughtful study. Thank you for the challenge!

  6. Noeleen says:

    I find myself bubbling up here at the use of the word’terrorist’. Words convey so much and having lived the first half of my life in Northern Ireland and having seen the effects of terrorism I’m struggling and wondering whether the reading of the various commentaries has rubbed off on you. Violence on the way towards justice is one thing. Violent intimidation and manipulation ‘charismatic terrorist’ seems like a totally different thing altogether. I think names matter a lot and so do labels – they can give dignity or shame. Tom Brady, Trump, Clinton, David. God’s viewpoint. I think about how it’s possible to get locked into a current context and pick up the characteristics of what’s there.

    • SLG says:

      Well Noeleen, I have difficulty with David ambushing civilians who were not at war at all and killing men, women and children indiscriminately. Sounds like God did too, since his brutality cost him the chance to build the Temple.

      • Linda says:

        I have pondered over David’s brutality and wondered if he was following his own reasoning or if he was following God. I see David as a bloody man because he had enemies surrounding him even in his own house for all his life because that is what God put on him because of his sins. I can’t say I know for sure either way if God instructed David or not who to kill. The determining factor is what God saw in the people. It is tough for us to accept that God instructed Israel many times to kill men, women, children and even the animals but I wonder if He did so because they were as corrupt as was all mankind He destroyed in the flood accept the eight He brought through it.

        Deut 9:5 “Not for your righteousness, or for the uprightness of your heart, do you go in to possess their land; but for the wickedness of these nations Yahweh your God does drive them out from before you…”

        Next we see why God destroyed ALL of Sodom and Gomorrah and it was not because of homosexuality but the root of arrogance which led to homosexuality.

        Ezk 16:49 ” ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have see.”

      • Noeleen says:

        I have difficulty with it too – but I won’t judge or condemn because I’m sorry to say that although I have never possessed a sword or weapon like that, I have been known to have a sharp tongue and have lashed out at times without thinking. It’s a long slow process to recognize feelings and bring them into a place where they can be described with words. The cultural habit of using whipped up froth to encourage outrage or deep sympathy may only work so well (I think of a sheepdog rounding up a big flock) because there is so much feeling unaccounted for. Encouraging a discourse based on deep consideration must surely be a worthwhile pursuit.

  7. Looking forward to the discussions and the challenge. Love the focus on the thinkers since they are harder to come by than the numbers!

  8. Linda says:

    Thank you Arthur, this has come at an appropriate time for me. The Lord is slowing me down, backing me up and re-positioning me in how to choose “His” staff for my ministry. I am listening again to your CD on An MRI of Fathering etc. I am eager to brainstorm with our King and others to gain a working experience with the opportunity you are providing us.

  9. Rosemary says:

    Thank you, no hype just biblical reasoning, love it: wish I could do it!

  10. phyllis says:

    Love this

  11. Suzie says:

    Yeah! Love that! Keep on being challenging!

  12. Janis Leal says:

    Amen. Go, Issachar!
    Help and equip us, Lord.

  13. Rebekah says:

    Whoa! Now that’s a mouthful. Hope we are up for the task. But if not us….. then who…..?

    “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Is. 6:8

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