If you’ve ever grown up in or around a military family, you might resonate with the first part of this chapter. My dad was a National Guardsman, and once a month, he packed up and disappeared for a weekend to some mystical place I never fully understood, and he spent a week during summers training for emergencies that thankfully never happened. He did get called up once, to my understanding, to a prison fire in southern Oklahoma. This was way before my time, sometime in the ‘50s or ‘60s (or early ‘70s???) maybe, so I only have the memory of my dad telling the story through the years growing up. Apparently, the prisoners started a riot, which resulted in a massive fire, and while dad served on the local fire department also, he was responding to the riot via the National Guard, not helping to fight the fire. Anyway, in responding to the riot, he was stationed near a chain-link fence where the prisoners had gathered to stay safe. Now, this prison was a working prison, and it’s where the State of Oklahoma had its license plates printed. These plates, my dad knew, were technically property of Oklahoma tax payers. They were public property, paid for by tax-paying citizens and made by the hands of people relying on those funds. So, he told the prisoners to start bailing out the license plates, and out by the dozens they started coming. Piles of them. Piles and piles and piles of them. After the riot ended and things calmed down, of course, the National Guard guys stayed around to clean up, and my dad was in charge of those license plates, many of which were damaged and unusable, and some of which were flawed just enough to be deemed unsuitable. Well, dad in his need to collect random crap that he thinks might be useful one day volunteered to take the license plates off the “people’s” hands and hauled them home and added them to his collection of collectibles and antiques, which at that time took up a good chunk of the attic space in the gas station he and his brother ran on Main Street. He packed up the car tags nicely and separated them with tissue and stored them away in a box, and as months rolled into years, he moved that box around and put it in corners and shuffled it from place to place, never giving the content much thought, other than when telling the story about responding to the great prison fire, which did come up quite a lot, come to think about it. So, flash forward to the 1990s and early 2000s when eBay was booming. Yes, eBay. I said eBay. My mom latched right onto eBay. I think she had big dreams of cleaning out the storage facilities my dad amassed over the years. He sold the station but then filled four other buildings to the brim with “junk,” as he liked to call it, that we rarely got to lay our hands on, but as my parents neared retirement and wanted an easier way to make money, dad decided to let go of a few of his treasures to help “make a buck,” which is what he always said he was collecting it for anyway. “This is your retirement, Sis,” I can hear him telling mom now as she looked around at what made him a contender to be a candidate on the Hoarders show. Anyway, after mom proved that eBay could be profitable, dad started digging through his treasures and finding little things to sell, and one day, right-o, he opened up that box of license plates. “Put this on, Sis, and see what it does.” I was in mom’s office the day he brought it in. Mom took a photo and made the post and started the bid at $5. Within a few hours, though, the bid was up to $70! And then we noticed people were fighting over the thing. We couldn’t keep our eyes off of it. Every time we’d refresh the page, the bid would go up a penny or two. By the end of the sale, which lasted seven days, the final bidder won that license plate for $170. Mom and I were stunned. And dad couldn’t get the rest of those plates out of that old box fast enough. Come to find out, there are license plates dealers in the world who buy nothing but license plates, and like stamps, they know the good ones and the rare ones and the weird ones, and that license plate happened to be all three of those things. Apparently, because of the fire and the riot and the damage done to the facility, there was a huge license plate shortage in Oklahoma that year. Like, you about couldn’t get one I guess. Weird, I know, but this is how I remember the story, so that’s how I’m telling it. And by the strangest, most serendipitous turn of events, my dad had a whole box of the things! The end. Just kidding, but thanks for letting me reminisce a bit today. I love that story, and I’m glad I get to share it, even if I don’t remember every detail perfectly.
Back to David’s kingdom! Besides thinking about the National Guard, I also was considering the size of this army. Wow. Just look at it. Having an army this size also indicated a massive amount of territory and people to cover. David’s kingdom was astonishing, which reminds me … one of my theories about why it was a sin for David to take a census is proven true in verse 23! I was so excited when I read, “When David took his census … because the Lord had promised to make the Israelites as numerous as the stars in Heaven.” I mean, I wasn’t excited about David angering the Lord by conducting a census. You know what I mean. But also, this little paragraph explains why Ezra may have focused on recording the names and information that he did: it’s all he had … because, “The total number was never recorded in King David’s official records.” Interesting. Sooooo much.
And finally, the last few sentences probably were my favorite. They are intimate and kind, like David himself made sure they were recorded in his own records. Check out the last part of verse 33: “Hushai the Arkite was the king’s friend.” Isn’t that lovely? Among all these army officials and counselors and mighty men, there is Hushai, the king’s friend. Be-YOU-tiful.
Writing prompt: troops
Add up the troops in the Israelite army and compare it to a modern-day military force, or write a story about one of your favorite military heroes like I did today.