Gilbert House Fellowship

Our weekly Bible study!

Bless the Lord, O My Soul

January 29, 2023 • Psalm 103, Psalm 104, 2 Samuel 5

DAVID’S FRAME OF MIND was apparently much better by the time he wrote these psalms, which are dated to about the time he was anointed king over all Israel. That took place at Hebron, but shortly thereafter he marched against the Jebusite city of Jerusalem and made that his capital city. We discuss the Jebusites, why we believe they were Hurrians (Horites), and why that’s relevant to our understanding of the supernatural battle for control of God’s har moʿed (“mount of assembly”). We also note differences between the Septuagint and Masoretic accounts in 2 Samuel 5: the Septuagint makes no mention of a water shaft into the City of David, and the Valley of Rephaim southwest of Jerusalem, where David fought two battles against the Philistines, was translated into the Greek Septuagint as “Valley of Titans.” Help us to Build Barn Better! This is our project to convert our 1,200 square foot shop building from a place to park our yard tractor into usable studio and warehouse space. In 2023, we plan to fix the holes in the walls, replace windows, insulate the building, install an HVAC system, and move our studios and book/DVD warehouse and shipping office out of our home. If you are so led, you can donate https://www.gilberthouse.org/donate/.

The Appointed Time Has Come

January 22, 2023 • 1 Chronicles 7, 1 Chronicles 8, 1 Chronicles 9, 1 Chronicles 10, Psalm 102

Genealogy was important in ancient Israel. It was how the Israelites kept track of the heads of the tribes and who was eligible for service in the Temple. It also debunks the idea that the tribes of the northern kingdom were “lost” after the Assyrian invasion of 722 BC. This week, we study the records of six of the tribes, the family of Saul, and the genealogy of the returned exiles. Then we move to Psalm 102, titled, “A Prayer of One Afflicted, When he is Faint and Pours Out His Complaint Before the Lord.” That seems appropriate this week, as we learned that our good friend and mentor, Dr. Michael Heiser, is in the late stage of an aggressive pancreatic cancer. He is home, in hospice care, and at peace. You can read Mike’s open letter about his condition https://www.facebook.com/mike.heiser.35/posts/pfbid02bzrnejqtdxqcqzk6yuoljz7osyudyslxujazs8dsjqf9mtsblrpvaan2q8vuuljcl.

Do the Rephaim Rise Up to Praise You?

January 15, 2023

Our ancestors 3,000 years ago dealt with the same pressures and problems we face today. This week, after reading the Chronicler’s list of the descendants of Levi, we study four psalms that illustrate the frustration of God that His people do not listen; the despair that comes from feeling separated from God like the demonic spirits of the Rephaim (Ps. 88:10: “departed” = rephaim); and the joy that results from acknowledging the sovereignty of God and praising His mighty works.

What God is Great Like Our God?

January 8, 2023 • Psalm 74, Psalm 78, Psalm 73

Remembering where we came from is the theme of this week’s study, three psalms of Asaph, a contemporary of David, that lament the trials of the faithful in contrast to the apparent success of the wicked. Although the unrighteous appear to prosper, Asaph remembers that envy of the arrogant is a stumbling block, and that we must remember the mighty works of God in saving not just his people, but each of us—and that a day is coming when He will “receive [us] to glory.” We also discuss some aspects of these psalms that aren’t obvious unless you’re reading with the Divine Council in mind; for example, Psalm 78:47–50, which describe several of the plagues of Egypt during the Exodus, that mention entities known to the pagan Canaanites: Barad (“hail”), Resheph (“thunderbolts”), and Deber (“plague”).

The Genealogy of David

December 18, 2022 • 1 Chronicles 3, 1 Chronicles 4, 1 Chronicles 5

GENEALOGY WAS important to the Israelites. It was the basis for determining who was eligible to serve in the Temple and who was worthy to sit on the throne. This week, we study the descendants of David, emphasizing his role as the progenitor of the kings of Judah, and then the tribes of Judah, Simeon, Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh that lived east of the Jordan River. In the middle of the list of the Judahites, we find an anecdote about Jabez, two verses that were made famous by the David Wilkerson book, The Prayer of Jabez. We discuss the prayer itself and how it’s been misapplied by some. As with the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer of Jabez is not a formula that obligates God to respond in the way we want. That’s dangerously close to “magic.” Rather, it’s a template—an example of how we should pray, not a script of what we should say. JOIN US IN ISRAEL! The Gilberts will be in the Holy Land March 19-30, 2023. This is a tour like no other! We’ll visit Shiloh, Joshua’s altar, Gilgal Refaim, and more. For information and to reserve your place, log on to http://www.gilberthouse.org/travel.

Your Throne, O God, is Forever

December 11, 2022 • Psalm 84, Psalm 87, Psalm 43, Psalm 45, Psalm 49

THE SONS OF KORAH were responsible for baking and gatekeeping in the Temple. They were also singers, and this week’s readings appears to be songs of lament and hymns of praise and joy. Psalm 43 is interesting in that it was probably part of the 42nd psalm originally, which appears to put the psalmist in the north of Israel—specifically in the region of Mount Hermon, which, spiritually speaking, was the heart of enemy territory. Taken together, this collection of psalms contrasts the troubles we endure in this life at the hands of the wicked, who foolishly “trust in their wealth” when “no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life” (Ps. 49:6–7) with the joy that awaits in Zion, the “dwelling place” of God.

From Adam to David

December 4, 2022 • 1 Chronicles 1, 1 Chronicles 2

GENEALOGY IS IMPORTANT in the Bible. It not only establishes Jesus as the descendant of David, and thus the rightful king, it also shows that he was fully human during his time on Earth. This week, we discuss the genealogies at the beginning of the chronicles, which scholars believe were written sometime after the Jews returned from Babylon beginning in 538 BC.

The Saints in the Land

November 20, 2022 • Psalm 16, Psalm 19, Psalm 21

THE PSALMS are filled with supernatural meaning that we often miss because we don’t have the worldview of the authors. This week, we dig into three psalms of David that appear, on first reading, related to his ascension to the kingship over all the tribes of Israel. They are that, but on a deeper level, we find references to the the unseen realm and those spirits who rejected God’s authority. For example, the “saints/holy people in the land” of Psalm 16:3 are, in our view, rebellious angels. The Hebrew word translated “saints” or “holy people,” qedoshim (literally “holy ones”), is used elsewhere in scripture of the Watchers (Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 4) and the heavenly beings of the divine assembly (Psalm 89:5–7; Job 15:15). The “excellent/noble ones” (Heb. addirim) are known from pagan texts from the time of the Judges, linked to the Rephaim and threshing floors, which were considered portals to the spirit realm in the ancient world. And “land” (Heb. eretz) means “underworld” as well as “the land” or “earth.” In short, understood in the cultural and religious context of David’s day, Psalm 16:3–4 is a condemnation of the small-G “gods” of the pagans around ancient Israel.

You Have Put All Things Under His Feet

November 13, 2022 • Psalm 8, Psalm 9, Psalm 10, Psalm 14, Psalm 6

THE PSALMS we study this week are especially timely, coming as they do after a contentious midterm election in the United States. At the end of the day, regardless of how the vote turned out, God is still on His throne, and He, for one, was not surprised by the results. We also discuss a psalm not usually interpreted as messianic. Psalm 8 includes several verses quoted by the author of Hebrews: What is man that you are mindful of him,     and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings     and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;     you have put all things under his feet… (Psalm 8:4–6, ESV) These verses are quoted in Hebrews 2:6–8, where it’s clear that “the son of man” refers to Jesus, the Messiah. Most Bible teachers don’t see it that way, for some reason. We dig deeper into the title “Son of Man” and how it emerged as a messianic title during the first century BC in the Book of Parables, chapters 37–71 of the Book of 1 Enoch. That was written by an Essene living near the Sea of Galilee before the end of the reign of Herod the Great—in other words, before the birth of Jesus. Even though we only see the term used in a messianic context in Psalm 8:4 and Daniel 7:13 (where it’s a description—“one like a son of man”—not a title), the Book of Parables uses it 17 times of the messianic figure who is prophesied to execute judgment on the the wicked, both human and divine, and Jesus applied it to himself more than 80 times in the New Testament. Significantly, “the son of man” does not appear in any Jewish literature from the first centuries BC or AD other than the Book of 1 Enoch and the New Testament. For more details on the Essenes, the parables of Enoch, and their influence on the New Testament, we recommend the research of https://newtorah.org/academic%20articles.html.

David, King at Hebron

November 6, 2022 • 2 Samuel 2, 2 Samuel 3, 2 Samuel 4

THE DEATH OF SAUL and his three eldest sons triggered a power struggle among the tribes of Israel, as you’d expect anytime humans and politics are involved. The chapters we study this week summarize the 7-1/2 years that David ruled as king over Judah from the city of Hebron. During that time, the two youngest sons of Saul, Ish-bosheth and Mephiboseth, ruled the northern tribes from Mahanaim, east of the Jordan River. We dig into the conflict between David and the sons of Saul, and a few details that seem inconsistent in the biblical account. Specifically, If Ish-bosheth was 40 years old when he began to reign, why wasn’t he with the army when his father and older brothers were killed by the Philistines? David and Ish-bosheth’s older brother, Jonathan, were presumably about the same age, and David was just 23 when he became king of Judah, so how could Ish-bosheth be 40 at the time of Saul’s death? (Answer: “40” in the ancient Near East represented an age of maturity, not his chronological age. Since the age of military service in Israel was 20, it’s probably that Ish-bosheth was in his teens when Abner, head of Saul’s army, made him king over the northern tribes.) Then we wrestle with the missing Mephibosheth. There were two male descendants of Saul with that name—his youngest son, who apparently succeeded Ish-bosheth after two years, and the young son of David’s friend Jonathan, who was five years old at the time of Saul and Jonathan’s deaths. It appears the Jewish scribes who preserved the Masoretic text on which our English Old Testaments are based thought it was too confusing to have two Mephibosheths in the story, so the account of Abner’s defection to David from the House of Saul in 2 Samuel 3 and 4 was changed so that Mephibosheth was replaced by Ish-bosheth. Of course, that raises the confusion of how Ish-bosheth became king at the same time as David, reigned for two years (2 Sam. 2:10), and was killed seven years into David’s reign (2 Sam. 4). Answer: The Septuagint translation records that it was Ish-bosheth’s younger brother, Mephibosheth, who was killed after Abner abandoned his cause, so Ish-bosheth presumably died five years earlier, possibly during the civil war between Judah and the other tribes of Israel. Bottom line: After seven years of rule at Hebron, and war with the sons of Saul, David was in position to finally become king over all Israel.

May All Who Hate Zion be Put to Shame

October 30, 2022 • Psalm 129, 2 Samuel 1, Psalm 124, Psalm 125, Psalm 128

GOD IS our protector through the trials of life. That comes through in the psalms we read this week, all part of the group titled Songs of Ascents. These come from the period of David’s life between the death of Saul and his acceptance as king over all Israel. They are a reminder that while we will endure trials in this life, God offers us His steadfast love, forgiveness, and redemption.

For Who is God but YHWH?

October 23, 2022 • Psalm 18, Psalm 121, Psalm 123

THE PSALMS OF DAVID give us a window into his heart and mind during the ups and downs of his life. This week, we discuss a psalm written shortly after the death of Saul in battle against the Philistines. We also look at a pair of psalms described as “songs of ascent,” two of fifteen so titled. Not surprisingly, we discover more supernatural depth and prophetic significance than we noticed our first time through the Old Testament.

The Ritual Pit at En-dor

October 9, 2022 • 1 Samuel 31, 1 Samuel 28, 1 Samuel 29, 1 Samuel 30

SAUL’S VISIT to the medium of En-dor is one of the more controversial chapters in the Bible. Does it prove that ghosts are real? We discuss the recent research that shows why the Hebrew word ôb, usually translated into English as “medium,” more accurately means “owner of a ritual pit.” This is a concept that can be traced back through the archaeological record to the ancient Hurrians (the biblical Horites), who originated on the Ararat Plain—the valley below the mountains where Noah’s ark came to rest.

In the Shadow of Your Wings

September 11, 2022 • Psalm 54, Psalm 63, Psalm 17, Psalm 35

DAVID’S PSALMS are a window into his heart and mind, and those written while he was on the run from Saul are instructive, teaching us that even in our darkest hours, God has not forsaken us. We discuss these psalms, composed while hiding in the dry, dusty wilderness of Judah—possibly the site of the later fortress of Masada, or even further southeast, in the desert of Edom near modern-day Petra. Even then, driven from his home and family by an unjust king, David trusted in God for his ultimate salvation. We note the verse where David asks God: Say to my soul, “I am your yeshua!” (Psalm 35:3) And we speculate that Psalm 17 may have a hidden reference to the practice of child sacrifice and the spirits that demand it. The link to the online text of The Star of Bethlehem: The Star That Astonished the World by Dr. E. L. Martin is below at the mobile app. Dr. Martin used historical and astronomical data to pin down the date of Jesus’ birth to September 11, 3 B.C. The relevant information is summarized in chapter 5. The Wikipedia entry on the mausoleum of Pozo Moro has pictures of the Phoenician inscription we described that depicts reptilian entities eating what looks like human infants.

David and Abigail

August 28, 2022 • 1 Samuel 25, 1 Samuel 26, 1 Samuel 27

ABIGAIL IS a wonderful example of wisdom and diplomacy, who acted contrary to her husband’s wishes—but in his best interests. Nabal—certainly not his name, since it means “fool”—insulted the messengers sent by David to ask for some supplies after protecting Nabal’s flocks and shepherds in the wilderness. Abigail wisely put together a caravan of gifts for David and his men, which stopped David from slaughtering everyone in Nabal’s household. When Abigail told her husband what had happened, Nabal suffered a heart attack (or a stroke) and died ten days later. David sent to Abigail and made her his third wife (after Saul’s daughter Michal and Ahinoam of Jezreel). Meanwhile, Saul continued to hunt for David, who spares the king’s life a second time. Not being stupid, David decided to take his followers and his new wives to the Philistines. This time, Achish, the king of Gath, took David in. This put David in an awkward position: On the one hand, Saul wouldn’t chase him into Philistine territory. On the other, David had to show loyalty to Achish without raiding and killing his fellow Israelites.