02 June 2007

Just for fun

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14 May 2007

God's neighborhood

I was listening to "Through the Bible" with J. Vernon McGee today on my way home from work. McGee covered chapter 22 of Deuteronomy and pointed out how the rules God had given Israel therein were given for a very good reason. The rules show us how God expects us to behave as neighbors and as countrymen.

1"You shall not see your countryman's ox or his sheep straying away, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your countryman.

2"If your countryman is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall remain with you until your countryman looks for it; then you shall restore it to him.

3"Thus you shall do with his donkey, and you shall do the same with his garment, and you shall do likewise with anything lost by your countryman, which he has lost and you have found. You are not allowed to neglect them.

4"You shall not see your countryman's donkey or his ox fallen down on the way, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly help him to raise them up. {Dt. 22:1-4}

It's sad that in today's America many of us do not even know our neighbor's names. In such detached and impersonal circumstances, how often are we looking out for our neighbors, or helping them. This isn't about living next to a farmer with sheep either. In the day when God gave these laws the animals mentioned were of great importance. The ox was needed to pull a plow, or to power the grinding wheel. It would have had as much importance to them as a car does to us. And sheep were used for meat and wool. The meat was, of course, for food and the wool for clothes or to sell. If you raised sheep to sell their wool and that was your livelihood, missing even one could be worrisome. God's rules were that you did not fail to help a neighbor whose animals had wandered off. If you saw your neighbor under the hood of his car, would you bother to ask what was wrong and if you could help?
5"A woman shall not wear man's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God. {Dt. 22:5}

God made men and women to be different and He created you to be as you are. Melding and confusing genders by adorning yourself as something you are not is rebelling from God by altering the work of His hands.
6"If you happen to come upon a bird's nest along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young;

7you shall certainly let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, in order that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days. {Dt. 22:6-7}

Remember when Jesus spoke of birds? A bird does not fall from the sky that God does not know about, and Jesus spoke of how God provided for the birds and stated that if God gives his caring attention to birds, how much more He cares for us. God's rule here did not allow for the mother and young to all be eliminated. The mother could lay new eggs later, but only if she were left alive.
8"When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, so that you will not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone falls from it. {Dt. 22:8}

McGee pointed out that in Old Testament times the roof of a house was where the family would gather in the cool of the evening. In today's times we sit on a porch or patio, but back then the roof was the gathering place. God decreed that the roof of a house should have a wall along the edge for safety's sake. Consider this the first building code. Because it was not an option, you knew your children could visit the home of another and not fall from the roof, because everyone was required to have a wall or railing along their roof. You also did not need to fear for folks falling from your own roof, and if you failed to adhere to God's rule and someone fell from your roof, God's own words showed that in His eyes their blood was on your hands. It was looking out for the safety of others that God had in mind.
9"You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, or all the produce of the seed which you have sown and the increase of the vineyard will become defiled.

10"You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.

11"You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together. {Dt. 22:9-11}

That which does not go together should not be put together. And ox and donkey do not work well together. Varying seeds do not all grow equally in the same soil, or with the same amount of water or sun. Wool and linen do not mix well together (McGee pointed out that wool shrinks and linen stretches).

The remainder of the chapter deals with laws regarding how women are to be treated in certain circumstances. McGee opined that in today's society women are demanding equal rights, when if we all followed God's way women would have greater than equal rights. They are demanding something that lowers their stature! This chapter and the understanding of what God expected is a good lesson for us all, and realizing how far we come from following these rules illustrates how ungodly our society is.

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10 May 2007

Okay baseball, you win.

I grew up a fan of the Cleveland Indians. They were a lousy bunch in those days (that's also the general time in their history when they wore those simply awful all red uniforms). After a couple of strikes I gave up on baseball, only to return to it in 1990 for basically the same reason I am now. See, I would be sitting at home, alone, trying to watch the programming on TBS, which I enjoyed. But, it was baseball season and the stupid Braves were on all the doggone time. I eventually relented and decided to watch a game here and there. Before the mid-point of the season I had become a Braves fan. In that regard I jumped onto the bandwagon, because they went from awful to contender at that time.

About 1998 or so I gave up on baseball again. Too long and boring. The steroid scandals have done nothing to make me want to watch again either. But I cannot avoid this tedious, boring sport because it is everywhere. The local sports radio station broadcasts Tigers games AND those of the local minor league team. Oh, they also carry ESPN national coverage too, so on some evenings I'll tune in to find a game that has seemingly no local interest (say the Padres vs. the Giants), being broadcast by ESPN and carried by the local station. Then there is baseball on TV and in the sports page of the newspaper and on sports Internet sites. It is unavoidable.

Since I cannot avoid baseball I have decided to submit and select a new favorite team. Let's see...is there a team whose fans are primarily Midwestern, blue-collar types? Is that team currently good? Is there something about that team I could get behind? Yes, yes and yes. The Milwaukee Brewers! Milwaukee is a Midwestern, blue-collar city. Check. They are currently good (I hear they have the best record in baseball as I type this). Check. They are the Brewers and I like beer. Check. Oh, they are also in the National League, which is a requirement for me. The American League has bastardized baseball with the DH so I cannot support an AL team.

There are some problems with the Brewers. They are connected to the worst leader of a sports league (the clueless Bud Selig), who used to be their owner. They play in Miller Park, and Miller Brewing is in favor of illegal immigration. But I won't actually be following the team, buying their merchandise or attending one of their games. I won't pee my pants for them either. But now I can say that I have a favorite baseball team and when all of the unavoidable baseball instances invade my life I can at least feel like I'm being greatly annoyed by something I have an interest in. Even if it is a fraudulent interest.

Go Brewers. Whatever.

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Al Sharpton a liar?

Yep. Aggie at Bloodthirsty Liberal says it, though I already realized that. When men like this are positioned as leaders of an entire minority group it is no wonder that we have race relation problems.

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09 May 2007

The Pope sort of lays down the gauntlet

On the heels of limbo being put away as an official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church comes the matter of Catholic officials and their positions on issues that the Roman Church has pronounced as dogma or doctrine. In March the Pope spoke toward the topics of abortion, gay marriage and euthanasia, saying, “These values are nonnegotiable”. Of course, many Catholic U.S. politicians, judges and so on have taken positions that differ from the teachings of their Church. In Mexico, an overwhelmingly Catholic nation, a liberal government voted to make abortion legal, in stark contrast to the Catholic Church's doctrine on the issue. Catholic Church leaders in Mexico have threatened to excommunicate those responsible. Asked if he supported the Mexican Church leaders the Pope said that he did.

"Yes, this excommunication was not an arbitrary one but is allowed by Canon (church) law which says that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving communion, which is receiving the body of Christ," he said.

"They (Mexican Church leaders) did nothing new, surprising or arbitrary. They simply announced publicly what is contained in the law of the Church... which expresses our appreciation for life and that human individuality, human personality is present from the first moment (of life)".

Under Church law, someone who knowingly does or backs something which the Church considers a grave sin, such as abortion, inflicts what is known as "automatic excommunication" on themselves.

While I do not support the Catholic Church I will say that I am pleased to see the Pope sticking to his guns on this point. One area where I agree with the Catholic Church is on abortion, and I have been disappointed to see U.S. officials, who are Catholic, get away with being so blatantly against the teachings of their own Church and face no consequence for their actions. I also agree completely with the Pope when he said:
"Selfishness and fear are at the root of (pro-abortion) legislation," he said. "We in the Church have a great struggle to defend life...life is a gift not a threat."

Amen! Now, if the Pope would enforce canon law (and the Catholic Church has no choice but to either do so or expose itself as not being what it claims to be...the one true Church of Jesus Christ) he would truly lay down the gauntlet, instead of doing so in a "sort of" way.

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Why do we empower hypocrites?

There are a lot of folks who sit in positions of power who do not deserve to be there. Likewise, there are lots of persons who hold sway over large groups of others who are very much flawed. In fact, there are so many such persons that if I listed them all in this one post I would likely post something so large that it would shut down Blogger. Or maybe not, but it would be a huge post. So let's start with a few and add to the list later. I'm labeling this and future posts under "Hypocrisy".

Let's begin with the supposedly Reverend Al Sharpton. I first heard of him during the Tawana Brawley fiasco. I thought then that he was a race-baiting, spotlight-seeking blowhard and he has not changed my opinion since. I term him supposedly Reverend for two reasons. Firstly, his behavior is not reverential and, secondly, because if the Wiki for him is correct his title is quite dubious. Sharpton's Wikipedia entry states that he was "licensed and ordained a minister at the age of nine by Bishop F.D. Washington in 1964." I prefer my Reverends to have actually been educated at a seminary, not merely said to suddenly be a Reverend, and especially when only 9 years old. I cannot imagine my own 9-year-old son having the emotional and intellectual capacity to be a Reverend. Sharpton's Wiki also shows that he graduated from a public high school in the Bronx and attended Brooklyn College (and dropped out after two years).

Sharpton's list of controversial incidents is rather long. Those incidents also betray Sharpton's claims to be a man of God, in my view. Race baiting, anti-Semitism, fanning the flames of civil unrest and full-blown hypocrisy are not the clarion of a true child of God. A recent example of Sharpton's bigotry is found in his remarks about Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Al Sharpton claims to want justice and peace, but his actions speak louder than his words, and his actions indicate that Al Sharpton wants Al Sharpton to be rich and famous. Sadly, he has succeeded in that goal.

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02 May 2007

Has American law enforcement exceeded the principles?

Sir Robert Peel was charged with forming the London Metropolitan Police, and London coppers are called Bobbies in his honor. What Peel contributed to law enforcement apart from London remains meaningful. Here then are Peel's Principles of Policing, as relevant today as they were over a century ago:

1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder

We in law enforcement have seemingly lost track of this. We seem to think our basic mission is to enforce the law, not prevent crime and disorder. We tend to equate one with the other, but they are not necessarily co-existent. I can prevent crime and disorder by my very presence, or by applying warnings and conversations to the right people at the right time. I do not need to arrest people to prevent crime and disorder, though there are times it is necessary. Still, if I am arresting someone the crime or disorder has occurred and was, thus, not prevented.

2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.
3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.
5. Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.

Another item forgotten by law enforcement is that we exist to serve, not to force a morality or social norm upon the public. I have known a lot of cops who apply themselves to one aspect of their job because it is a bone of contention with them. They do not care where the public ranks that particular issue, it's #1 on their hit list and everything else will fall behind it in priority. In other words, there is too much of "the public be damned" and too little concern for what those we are supposed to be serving ask of us.
6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient.
7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.

I agree entirely with the above points. I do wish to point out some problems where #8 is concerned. Cops tend to stack charges against those they arrest, which means they charge them with as many violations of law that can possibly apply. Why? Because our criminal justice system is one of plea bargains, and the more charges pending the harder it is to dismiss them in a plea deal. Or so the thinking goes. Of course, with today's judiciary ursurping the other branches of government it becomes more likely for other parts and parcels of government and society to behave in like fashion.
9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

Boy is this one hard to get through the thick heads of some cops and agency administrators. If your community is blessed with an absence of crime and disorder, be thankful. Sure, you could say it still would be if your local cops didn't exist, but you don't know that for sure. The ideal community would have an absence of crime and disorder and a quiet local police.

For more on the matter of rogue cops, decaying personal liberties and a general libertarian mindset, visit Radley Balko's blog.

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28 April 2007

The politics of personal destruction

The subject title is a phrase given us by former President Clinton, which he used to describe the actions of his political enemies. I admit that Bill Clinton was targeted by his political enemies, but not to the same degree as President Bush (43). For all the attacks that Bill Clinton had to endure, George W. Bush has had to endure more, and the attacks against Bush are more spiteful. Clinton had several hypocrites attacking him for his sexual peccadilloes, but Bush has several hypocrites attacking him for merely holding office. No one called Clinton "Hitler", or accused him of sending soldiers to die in a war fought to bolster the financial portfolio of his buddies (i.e. the "war for oil" argument). No one accused Clinton of engineering an attack against his own nation either. Bill Clinton was attacked viciously to be sure, but the attacks made against George W. Bush make those made against Clinton look like playground chatter.

One of the Bosque Boys has posted an insightful piece on the recent lesbian wedding in Nigeria.

According to the Sharia Law (Islamic Law) of that state in Nigeria these women face death by stoning. The Nigerian interpretation is not unique, homosexuals have been hanged in Iran.

I am not an advocate of same-sex practice, as readers of this blog know.

My point here is that in a rational world San Francisco would today be erupting in protests against Sharia Law, gay and lesbian activist groups would be holding vigils in Washington, and Rosie O'Donnell would be on television, along with Ellen Degeneres, condemning Islamic intolerance. But none of this will happen. The left is so locked in to hatred of Bush, and so committed to multiculturalism, that no response will be forthcoming. The groups that most naturally would lead the fight against Islamic jihad are silent. Perhaps some forms of liberalism indeed are a mental disease.

He's entirely correct. In a rational world the homosexuals would deduce that the greatest threat to their identity are those who believe they should be put to death. Instead, their politics of personal destruction against George W. Bush have led them to finger an inability to be married in most places in this nation as the threat of all threats. And they blame President Bush for this, despite the fact that the issue has been decided at the state level. Andrew Sullivan, who is gay, has called gay marriage "the civil rights cause of our time". I would think that homosexuals would identify the politics of their literal destruction, as practiced under Muslim Sharia Law, as their primary civil rights fight. Alas, it is an irrational world we live in, and George W. Bush is the primary enemy of homosexuals.

One would think that feminists would see Sharia Law as their primary threat too, but they don't. In another post at the Bosque Boys I found a link to this story, where we learn that covering a woman's face with a veil is not acceptable in Italy.
Rome - Women in Italy should not wear veils that cover their face, according to new government guidelines for immigrants that were drawn up in consultation with representatives of the main faiths, including Muslims.

The document, presented by interior minister Giuliano Amato late on Monday, is Rome's response to a growing debate in Europe over integration standards for Muslim minorities.

"Types of clothing that cover the face are not acceptable because they prevent the identification of the person and are an obstacle to the interaction with others," it says.

In a time when the entire globe is dealing with terrorism personal identification is a must. If this upsets the Muslims then they should realize that they are the ones who caused this issue to become prominent. Further, the Italian Interior Minister points out that the veil is "an obstacle to the interaction with others". That is exactly what Muslim men want. I have read that in places where Sharia Law is practiced it is not permissible for a non-Muslim man to speak to a Muslim woman. If you encounter a Muslim husband and wife you speak only to the husband. The practices of Sharia Law toward women dehumanize them. They become nameless, faceless life forms that have no rights and must strictly follow legalistic and rigid rules; and failure to do so can result in death. Contrast that with what women are permitted to do in the United States and one is stupefied at why there is no feminist outcry over the treatment of women under Sharia Law.

We have become so politically polarized that our priorities and focus are totally askew. Liberals in the U.S. identify George W. Bush as the Prince of Darkness and ignore the far, far worse actions of so many others. Perhaps liberalism is indeed a mental disorder.

And for the record, I have plenty of criticisms for George W. Bush myself, but I am able to identify that there are greater threats to me in this world than the President and his cabinet. I'll be glad when Bush leaves office, but let us hope that the slow spread of Islam has not resulted in a Islamic majority in Europe and other parts of the globe by January 2009.

EDIT: Additonal info I just found, which fits here. Haven't we been led to believe that it is the oil-soaked Republicans who have immoral ties to Saudi Arabian money? Apparently, this is not an accurate belief.

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24 April 2007

David and Bathsheba's baby

In 2 Samuel, chapter 12, we learn that David's sins of adultery (with Bathsheba, who was then married to Uriah) and murder (having Uriah killed) result in the child born of the adulterous liaison becoming sick and eventually dying. While the baby was sick David repented, but once the child died he cleaned himself up, got dressed and ate. His aides wondered why he was not mourning and David answered:

22He said, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.'

23"But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." {2 Samuel 12:22-23 NASB}

What I wish to explore is what David meant by his statement. There are conflicting opinions, with some saying David merely meant he would "go to" the child in death one day and others believing that David meant he would be reunited with the child in heaven. I am not seminary trained, do not know biblical languages and am not a biblical scholar at all, so I turn to commentaries of those more learned than I to learn what they say.

First is the famed Methodist theologian Adam Clarke:
Verse 23. I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.] It is not clear whether David by this expressed his faith in the immortality of the soul; going to him may only mean, I also shall die, and be gathered to my fathers, as he is. But whether David expressed this or not, we know that the thing is true; and it is one of the most solid grounds of consolation to surviving friends that they shall by and by be joined to them in a state of conscious existence. This doctrine has a very powerful tendency to alleviate the miseries of human life and reconcile us to the death of most beloved friends. And were we to admit the contrary, grief, in many cases, would wear out its subject before it wore out itself. Even the heathens derived consolation from the reflection that they should meet their friends in a state of conscious existence. {Source}

Clarke does not take a stand one way or another, saying it is understood both ways by varying persons. Clarke goes on to point out what is largely at stake here, which is the comfort provided by the interpretation that David meant he would be reunited in heaven with the child. For those who have lost babes and small children to an early and untimely death, solace can be taken by David's words. There are some who believe that children who die before reaching an age or standing of accountability go to heaven. These folks take comfort in David's words because they either believe their lost loved one is with the Lord or it supports their theology. This is the "safe" position because it cannot be criticized emotionally; this is the happy ending position.

Matthew Henry comments thusly:
That now the child was dead he thought it as much his duty to be satisfied in the divine disposal concerning it (v. 23): Now, wherefore should I fast? Two things checked his grief:—[1.] I cannot bring him back again; and again, He shall not return to me. Those that are dead are out of the reach of prayer; nor can our tears profit them. We can neither weep nor pray them back to this life. Wherefore then should we fast? To what purpose is this waste? Yet David fasted and wept for Jonathan when he was dead, in honour to him. [2.] I shall go to him. First, To him to the grave. Note, The consideration of our own death should moderate our sorrow at the death of our relations. It is the common lot; instead of mourning for their death, we should think of our own: and, whatever loss we have of them now, we shall die shortly, and go to them. Secondly, To him to heaven, to a state of blessedness, which even the Old Testament saints had some expectation of. Godly parents have great reason to hope concerning their children that die in infancy that it is well with their souls in the other world; for the promise is to us and to our seed, which shall be performed to those that do not put a bar in their own door, as infants do not. Favores sunt ampliandi—Favours received should produce the hope of more. God calls those his children that are born unto him; and, if they be his, he will save them. This may comfort us when our children are removed from us by death, they are better provided for, both in work and wealth, than they could have been in this world. We shall be with them shortly, to part no more.

Henry touches upon a point that must be part of this conversation. The person who accepts the sovereignty of God (commonly called a Calvinist) would point out that either we are predestined to adoption (i.e. salvation) or we are not, and that this is God's sovereign decree. Thus, without divine insight, David could not know the eternal destination of the child and is therefore speaking of joining him in death. More on this in summation. Henry accepts both positions as factual, saying that David meant he would go to the child first in death, then in the presence of God (i.e. heaven).

Next is John Gill:
Verse 23. But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast?.... And pray; it is to no purpose, no end can be thought to be answered by it:

can I bring him back again? from the state of the dead, bring him to life by fasting, and praying, and weeping; that is not to e expected:

I shall go to him; to the state of the dead, to the grave, where his body was, or would be; to heaven and eternal happiness, where his soul was, as he comfortably hoped and believed: from whence it appears, that the Old Testament saints did not suppose an annihilation at death; but believed the immortality of the soul, a future state after death of eternal life and bliss:

but he shall not return to me; in the present mortal state, though at the resurrection they should meet again.

Gill, like Henry, comments that David would follow the child in death and in the hereafter, though Gill explains it as a matter of faith and not some known assurance, as though God had blatantly stated what became of the child's soul.

John Wesley comments like Henry and Gill:
Verse 23. I fast - Seeing fasting and prayer cannot now prevail with God for his life. I shall go to him - Into the state of the dead in which he is, and into heaven, where I doubt not I shall find him.

I found other commentaries which addressed the verse(s) in question, but not David's declaration. I wish to return to the position of the Calvinist, who states that all who are to become adopted by God and so redeemed must be predestined. This is a position I myself accept, which I believe is supported throughout the scriptures. At first blush one would say that we cannot accept the warm and fuzzy theology that the infant went to be with his Lord, and that without divine enlightenment concerning this matter David could speak only of following the child to the grave. However, at the same time the Calvinist must also admit that we have no idea whether the child was predestined by God because the scriptures do not specifically tell us and we know that God has not revealed all to mankind. Therefore, it is entirely possible that the child was predestined to redemption and that the babe is with His Lord and with David.

Those who say David meant the grave and no more will point to Jacob's words as found in Genesis:
34So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days.

35Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, "Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son." So his father wept for him. {Genesis 37:34-35 NASSB}

However, Jacob laments that his extreme grief will bring about his own death. There is also a passage in Job which might be cited:
7"Remember that my life is but breath;
My eye will not again see good.
8"The eye of him who sees me will behold me no longer;
Your eyes will be on me, but I will not be.
9"When a cloud vanishes, it is gone,
So he who goes down to Sheol does not come up.
10"He will not return again to his house,
Nor will his place know him anymore. {Job 7:7-10 NASB}

That speaks of not returning to a mortal state after death; it does not speak of the afterlife beyond this earth. We therefore find ourselves at an impasse. Perhaps this is an exercise in futility because I have not concluded one way or another on what David meant, but I am not dissatisfied with the result. In the end I can take one of three positions.

1. David meant Sheol (the grave) and nothing more, so we cannot know anything beyond what is plain and obvious. A harsher take on this would be to say anything beyond what is clear through David's words is to behave foolishly, and that those who believe David meant a reunion in heaven are therefore fools because we are all born into original sin, and unless we receive Jesus Christ as Savior and are thus redeemed from our sins, we are not spared from the punishment of sin.

2. We can know with certainty that David would follow the child to the grave, but if he meant beyond the grave also, or instead, we cannot know.

3. Being a man of faith it is entirely possible, even likely, that David believed that the child's soul would be spared by God and that he (David) would be reunited with his son in the afterlife, where David trusted he would be because of his very faith.

In the end I fall somewhere between choices #2 and #3. Was the child chosen by God for adoption and David has been reunited with him in heaven? Are all infants who die blameless before God and thus spared from hell? Was David making a statement of faith that he would see the child in heaven, or did he mean only what is plain and nothing more? I don't know the definite answer to any of these questions. In the end it seems that your conclusion is a matter of how you interpret more than just this one verse. God could have adopted the child and forgiven him his guilt (if you believe he was born with it). We simply, I believe, cannot conclude absolutely one way or another. For that reason, I'm not prepared to dispute anyone over their position.

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