Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2018


1 Samuel 29: Among the Enemy

Philistine captives being led away after their failed invasion of Egypt, from a relief at Ramses III’s mortuary temple at Medinet Habu, Thebes, Egypt. (Britannica online)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The stories in 1 and 2 Samuel are intriguing if we take the time to pause with them; and over the past weeks we have considered the variety of ways God speaks to us. We have paused to reflect on how we might hear, and then heed, God’s Word. Today it is the story of David, Achish, the Philistine King of Gath, and the Philistines.

Many of us perceive the Philistines as enemies of the Jewish people. As a noun describing characteristics, we define a philistine as a: a person who is guided by materialism and is usually disdainful of intellectual or artistic values, or b: one uninformed in a special area of knowledge”. (Merriam Webster Online) No matter the context, we understand that David and his men align with Achish in order to somehow endure the wrath of Saul. And we further understand that the Philistine chieftains reject this small band who are trying to survive in a brutal world. The ancient order reflects our own as we too struggle to make and maintain alliances, as we look for connections and coalitions.

Archaeological findings at Gath

What might we learn from David’s dilemma today? That at times we are required to lie among the enemy. And at times even the enemy rejects us.

To learn more about the Philistine people, visit the Britannica at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Philistine-people

To learn more about Achish and Gath, use the links to explore, or visit: https://www.bibleplaces.com/gath/

Read Full Post »


Deuteronomy 18:15-22: Heeding the Word

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. 

We might well wonder what God wants with us or from us. If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present, and all-loving, what can God possible want from us? Our adulation? Christ’s humility shows us that God does not want burnt offerings, but rather our open and honest hearts. Does God want our blind obedience? Created with a free will, we understand that we are able to make our own choices, for good or evil. Is God looking for our love? We have the imprint of God’s plan in our DNA, a plan that calls each of us to enact God’s word in love as best we can.

Yet how do we decipher this word? And how do we heed it?

In ancient days, God’s prophets walked among God’s people calling them to goodness; and modern-day prophets walk among us still. The New Testament stories tell us of God’s Word manifested in Jesus, and they tell us that God’s Spirit abides with us still. When we question what we are to do or what we are to say, we turn to these stories and to the Spirit within us. When we struggle with life’s anxieties and fears, we look to this Word among us.

Jesus continues the long line of prophets God sends to alert the faithful and the faithless alike. There are prophets among us still We do well to heed Christ’s call.

God builds a living temple with the stumbling stones in our lives. This temple breaths and sighs as we look for the good that God brings out of harm. We do well to make stepping-stones from obstacles.

The Spirit lives in each of us. She calls and guides, heals and consoles. We do well to heed the word of the LORD within.

Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. 

When we reflect on these verses and explore varying translations, we offer our hearts to the Word that lives among us.

Read Full Post »


Psalm 89: A Hymn in Time of National Struggle – Part VII

Monday, January 29, 2018

Paolo Veronese: The Anointing of David

Finding the Servant

God finds a faithful servant in the youngest son of Jesse, David, a simple shepherd. This servant is not perfect, and this is good news for nor are we. Yet, this servant is faithful in his determination to follow God, no matter the obstacles or circumstances. Today we pray with the young king.

Then King David went into the Tent of the Lord‘s presence, sat down and prayed, “Sovereign Lord, I am not worthy of what you have already done for me, nor is my family. Yet now you are doing even more . . . we have always known that you alone are God.

Dearest Lord, you know our sorrows and our joys; these we bring to you in the hope that your presence transforms us.

“And now, Lord God, fulfill for all time the promise you made about me and my descendants, and do what you said you would. Your fame will be great, and people will forever say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel.’

Dearest Christ, you know our family and our friends; these we dedicate to you in fidelity and trust.

“And now, Sovereign Lord, you are God; you always keep your promises, and you have made this wonderful promise to me. I ask you to bless my descendants so that they will continue to enjoy your favor. You, Sovereign Lord, have promised this, and your blessing will rest on my descendants forever.”

Holy Spirit, you know our shortcoming and our gifts; these we offer up to you in confidence and love.

We hear this prayer. . . we take it in . . . and then we reply with the psalmist and King David . . . O Lord, I will always sing of your constant love; I will proclaim your faithfulness forever.

When we compare other translations of this prayer, we come to the full knowledge that God seeks servants among us, and we begin to understand the gentle yet persistent power of God’s call.  

Read Full Post »


Psalm 89: A Hymn in Time of National Struggle – Part VI

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Finding the Servant

James Tissot: David Dances Before the Ark

In 2 Samuel we continue to learn how God finds the faithful servant . . . and how we might become a constant follower of Christ. In this Book we find more vibrant lessons for living.

If we look at the Books of Samuel more closely, and the vivid characters who tell their stories so well, we see clear lessons for living.

How do we react when goodness and evil enter our lives? Do we recognize God’s hand when our lives go well? Do we blame others when our lives are difficult? How much do we credit God? How much credit to give ourselves?

The Ark of the Covenant returns to Jerusalem. Are we willing to leap for joy as David does? (2 Samuel 4)

We experience success in work and at home. Are we willing to thank God in prayer as David does? (2 Samuel 7)

William Brassey Hole: The Sorrow of King David

We stumble and stray. Where do we turn for guidance and pardon? (2 Samuel 11-12)

God searches for a faithful servant and finds a dedicated follower in the flawed leader of Israel. God works with a corrupt and immoral political and religious structure. God guides and protects the faithful followers of the Word. God walks among us as one of us. Today we spend a bit of time with 2 Samuel as we find our place in God’s kingdom of the faithful.

We hear this story . . . we take it in . . . and then we reply with the psalmist and King David . . . O Lord, I will always sing of your constant love; I will proclaim your faithfulness forever.

Tomorrow, praying with David, a faithful servant.

When we examine these verses using the scripture link, we discover the faithful servant in each of us.

Read Full Post »


Psalm 89: A Hymn in Time of National Struggle – Part V

Saturday, January 27, 2018

John Singleton Copley: Eli and Samuel

Finding the Servant

We have taken a quick journey through the Books of Samuel to see that life in our century has much in common with life in ancient days. Some might say that as a species, we have not made much progress. Others may disagree, pointing to improved living conditions for some, though not for all. The Old Testament perspective we see in 1 and 2 Samuel gives way to the New Testament good news that God has come to live among us as a clear sign of God’s love for us. The message that Jesus brings is clear, although not always altogether comfortable. Christ calls us today to tend to those on the margins of our societies who do not benefit from the advances some of us have made, and this clearly will cause times of national struggle.

If we look at the Books of Samuel more closely, and the vivid characters who tell their stories so well, we see clear lessons for living.

How do we handle the corruption we experience? We might take a lesson from God’s message to us when we remember that the young prophet Samuel – who leads a young nation to unity – is raised by a corrupt Temple priest. If God protects and guides a faithful servant to blossom and grow in an environment that lacks authenticity, then we must trust God to protect and guide us today. (1 Samuel 3)

What do we do with our feelings of jealousy or envy?  It is possible to hear a message when we recount the story of Saul’s greed and disappointment when the women sing, Saul has killed thousands, but David tens of thousands. If God inspires David to show courage and love to his enemies, then we must trust God to inspire us today. (1 Samuel 18-19)

Matteo Roselli: The Triumph of David

How might we step out of our comfort zone? Perhaps we learn something about the story of David showing mercy to Saul during the time when Saul persecuted David. If God provides strength and hope to a faithful servant during a time of national turmoil, then we must trust God to bring us strength and hope today. (1 Samuel 24)

How might we better understand God’s plan? We might learn a lesson when we take in the story of David among the Philistines. If we find ourselves working well with our enemies – much to our surprise – then we must trust God’s wisdom and grace more than we trust our own instincts. (1 Samuel 27)

We hear this story . . . we take it in . . . and then we reply with the psalmist and King David . . . O Lord, I will always sing of your constant love; I will proclaim your faithfulness forever.

When we compare other translations of these chapters in 1 Samuel, we open ourselves to God’s fidelity, hope, love, grace and wisdom.

We can learn more about the priest Eli who raised the prophet Samuel in the Temple when we visit: https://bible.org/seriespage/4-rise-samuel-and-fall-eli-and-sons-1-samuel-31-422

Tomorrow, more lessons from Samuel.  

 

Read Full Post »


Psalm 89: A Hymn in Time of National Struggle – Part IV

Friday, January 26, 2018

Rembrandt van Rijn: The Reconciliation of David and Absalom (2 Samuel 14)

Finding the Servant

Perhaps the most heartbreaking part in the story of David’s rise and reign is the accounting of his son Absalom. As Nathan had predicted, this favored child hatches a plot to do away with his father. In Chapters 16-17 we see the counselor Ahitophel create double deceit as the writer records, Any advice that Ahithophel gave in those days was accepted as though it were the very word of God; both David and Absalom followed it. Later we read that Ahithophel takes his own life (2 Samuel 17:23) and we consider, when we plot to take down our enemies, are we prepared to have that plot turn against us?

Men prepare for conflict. The battle ensues and Absalom dies. Messages fly. David mourns and shames the soldiers who have saved him and the city. The world turns on its head. David’s nephew Joab steps in to bring the world back into focus and life settles into a series of defensive moves in which David maintains the kingdom in a series of skirmishes and disagreements. In the closing chapters of this long tale we read the beautiful song of this faithful servant’s thanksgiving. And so we consider, when we reflect on our lives with all of its peaks and valleys, can we recognize God as our rock, fortress, deliverer and refuge, or do we curse our circumstances and blame bad fortune on others?

Francesco Pesellino: The Death of Absalom

Samuel, David, Bathsheba, Nathan, Joab, Ahithophel, Uzza and so many others paint a canvas for us of the faithful servant who stumbles and recovers . . . many times. Through all of this, our loving God  pardons, heals and always abides. In a time when the word of the Lord is rare and visions are scarce in our lives, we might find ourselves in this story. We might listen for God’s voice as we step forward in faithful service.

We hear this story . . . we take it in . . . and then we reply with the psalmist and King David . . . O Lord, I will always sing of your constant love; I will proclaim your faithfulness forever.

Compare other translations of these verses by using the scripture links and drop-down menus. 

Click on the image of David and Absalom for more insights into this story.

To visit the Prayer for Faithful Servants post on this blog, go to: https://thenoontimes.com/2014/03/30/a-prayer-for-faithful-servants/

Tomorrow, God among us.

Read Full Post »


Psalm 89: A Hymn in Time of National Struggle – Part III

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Peter Frederick Rothermel: Thou Art the Man (2 Samuel 12:7)

Finding the Servant

Moving forward into 2 Samuel, we see that King Saul and his son Jonathan die, the former David’s nemesis, the latter David’s dearest friend. Ordering the execution of the messenger who brings him this news, David says, You brought this on yourself. You condemned yourself when you confessed that you killed the one whom the Lord chose to be king. And so we consider, when we navigate the turbulent waters of national conflict, do we live by the standards of our times or do we open our hearts to other ways?

Following instructions and bolstered by the Lord, the young king leads his troops in victory as they bring the Ark back to Jerusalem. We might pause in chapter 6 for the accounting of Uzzah who acts in his own time rather than God’s; and we watch David move forward cautiously in the arc of his reign. In Chapter 7, David prays, Sovereign Lord! What more can I say to you! You know me, your servant. It was your will and purpose to do this; you have done all these great things in order to instruct me. How great you are, Sovereign LordAnd so as we reflect we consider, Do we add to the violence or do we work for the way of peace?

Juan Gimenez Martin: In the Harem

In Chapters 11 and 12, we discover that the gifted and blessed young king succumbs to the easy temptation of deceit, infidelity, betrayal and even murder. The prophet Nathan uses a parable to bring David to the reality of his offenses. Nathan said to David. “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: I made you king of Israel and rescued you from Saul. I gave you his kingdom and his wives; I made you king over Israel and Judah. If this had not been enough, I would have given you twice as much. Why, then, have you disobeyed my commands? David confesses and repents, and then he hears the news that darkness will cloud his own future. The intertwining lives of David, Nathan, Bathsheba, Uriah and the yet unborn sons Solomon and Absalom play out before us. And so as we reflect we consider, Do we add to the violence we experience or do we look for the way of peace?

The faithful servant stumbles. Our generous God forgives. Betrayal or fidelity, desperation or hope, hatred or love. Clear choices with difficult paths lie before us when the word of the Lord is rare and visions are scarce in our lives.

We hear this story . . . we take it in . . . and then we reply . . . O Lord, I will always sing of your constant love; I will proclaim your faithfulness forever.

Compare other translations of these verses by using the scripture links and drop-down menus. 

For other reflections on Uzzah and the ox cart, enter his name into the blog search bar and explore.

Tomorrow, God always abides. 

Read Full Post »


Psalm 89: A Hymn in Time of National Struggle – Part II

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

James Tissot: David Cuts Off the Head of Goliath

Finding the Servant

Samuel anoints Saul Israel’s leader and the new ruler is successful in battle as he enters into a close relationship with God; but later in this story, Saul begins to think of himself as the ultimate power. We can predict what happens as his life unravels. In 1 Samuel 16, the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you go on grieving over Saul? I have rejected him as king of Israel. But now get some olive oil and go to Bethlehem, to a man named Jesse, because I have chosen one of his sons to be king”. And so we consider, are we flexible; are we able to see two sides of an argument; are we willing to admit that there is always more than a single story?

Relationships ebb and flow; conflicts rise and wane. Samuel and Eli. David and Goliath. David and Jonathan. David and Saul. Corrupt priests raise prophets. Arrogant leaders kill the innocent. A nation rejects the ideals the people so ardently espoused such a short time before. The world seems to stand on its head. Yet through all of this, the Lord is constant. Through all of this, the message is consistent. God finds servants and remains open to their dialog. God asks servants to follow, as they trust that God’s plan is better than any they might devise themselves. God abides and remains, coaxes and consoles, supports and guides, hopes and loves. Today we consider, are we willing to be the faithful servants God finds? And are we willing to be sent into the world?

We hear this story . . . we take it in . . . and then we reply . . . O Lord, I will always sing of your constant love; I will proclaim your faithfulness forever.

Mattia Preti: Samuel Anoints David

When we spend time with this psalm and this story, we find new openness to God’s fidelity, even when the word of the Lord is rare and visions are scarce.  

Tomorrow, God always hopes. 

 

 

Read Full Post »


Psalm 89: A Hymn in Time of National Struggle – Part I 

James Tissot: Saul Meets Samuel

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Finding the Servant

The Old Testament readings in last week’s liturgies reminded us of the story of Samuel, Saul and David. There is so much to ponder that we are easily lost in the story. Samuel is born of a woman thought barren and then lives his childhood at the Temple with the priest Eli. In 1 Samuel 3, when The word of the Lord was rare in those days, visions were not widespread, we read the familiar words in the familiar story, Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. If we can make time today, we will want to linger with this chapter as we consider Psalm 89 and all it might mean to us. How and when do we hear God’s voice?

Jan Victors: Hannah Giving her Son to the Priest

In the following chapters of 1 Samuel, the Philistines capture the Ark of the Covenant; panic and conflict ensue. The Ark returns, Samuel begins a ceremony of gratitude, and when the Philistines attack again, the Lord intervenes on Israel’s behalf. The people are grateful and so Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. Again, we consider our role as servants to God’s people. When and with whom do we share our gratitude that God is present in our lives?

In Chapter 8, Samuel prays to the Lord when the people demand a king of this world and God replies, Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them . . . Listen to their voice and set a king over them. In tenderness and compassion, the Lord assures Samuel that he has done nothing wrong. With authority and kindness, the Lord works with Samuel as he moves forward in service to both God and God’s people. And we consider, are we willing to do as God asks of us, even when the plan does not appear to make sense?

When we use the scripture links and the drop-down menus to explore these verses, we discover that national turmoil when the word of the Lord is rare and visions are scarce is an ancient story. 

Tomorrow, God always abides. 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: