Archive for September 28th, 2021

philistia mapTuesday, September 28, 2021

Jeremiah 47

Recognizing Philistines

We humans have a desire to look at our world through a lens that separates right from wrong, black from white, right from left, up from down. This is likely due to our organic need to survive. Or perhaps we want easy shortcuts in our thinking that quickly label everyone with whom we come into contact. In this dual world where up is right and down is wrong, syllogisms pass as cogent argument; and all decision-making rests on our perception that we live in an “us and them” world in which we must separate and even isolate ourselves – at all cost – from “the other”. What we fail to recognize with this simplistic approach to life is that not only is we also they, but that with each of us these two apparently opposite worlds exist. The world is not as black and white as we believe. Our reality is, after all, rather more gray than black and white.

Today we read an oracle against the Philistines, an ancient people living along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in the region of Philistia, whose territory the Hebrew tribes occupied in the Old Testament. In our modern world, the word philistine is defined as “a person who is guided by materialism and is usually disdainful of intellectual or artistic values, or one uninformed in a special area of knowledge”. (Merriman-Webster Online) Today we contemplate not the philistines from whom we separate ourselves, nor do we reflect on the philistine who lives next door. Today we consider the philistine who lives within each of us. We consider how well or how poorly we recognize the “other within”. And we consider our response to this force that disdains all that is foreign or unlikeable in philistine eyes.

Behold: waters are rising from the north, a torrent in flood; it shall flood the land and all that is in it, the cities and their people.

Good and generous God, help us to see our imperfections as places where we meet your healing hand rather than embarrassments to hide. Protect us from the flood of criticism from self and others.

Philistine Carvings

Philistine Temple Carvings

All the people of the land set up a wailing cry.

Good and merciful God, remind us to see disasters as places where we act in your name rather than calamities to be avoided at all cost. Lead us away from fear and anxiety and toward you in love.

Fathers turn not to save their children; their hands fall helpless.

Good and wise God, guide us as we see the philistine in self and others with hope rather than with despair. Love us ever more as we place our helpless hands in yours.

Behold: waters rise, the people wail, our hands are helpless . . .

Good and redeeming God, save us from disdain, keep us from fear, and heal us in your love as we recognize the philistine in each of us.


For a reflection on Recognizing the Messiah, enter the words into the blog search bar and explore. 

For more on the ancient Philistines, click on the carving image above or go to: http://www.biblebasics.co.uk/natcit/philist.htm 

Map from: http://www.accordancebible.com/Map-Maker

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