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2 Samuel 6: Michal

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Tissot: Michal Despises David

Yesterday we spent time with the opening portion of this chapter; today we focus on the rest of the story.  Just as we are given an opportunity to see the realities of life in the story of Uzzah, we are given the chance to see our own reality in the story of Michal.

It has been noted that Michal is the only woman in scripture described as loving a man who does not love her in return.  As with many women in scripture she is used by a pawn. In this case it is her father and husband who exploit Michal . . . the two men closest to her . . . the two men charged with her protection.  Again as a child I saw her circumstances as out of her own control and I saw her life as one of deepest betrayal.  As with the tale of Uzzah, we turn to commentary to ask why in 1 Samuel 19 to find that David and Michal had pagan statues in their household and we might nod smugly and knowingly and comment that perhaps she suffered for bringing idol-worship into her home.  If we spend time reading the scattered fragments of Michal’s story we pull together the threads of her life.  As a child I saw her as a victim; as an adult I understand that there are far too many circumstances beyond Michal’s control and I watch as she sees all her dreams melt away into nothing.  I begin to understand how her passion becomes loathing.

As we grow in God’s love begin to understand that with mercy there are no bounds; we see that justice is best delivered in God’s time and according to God’s plan; we know that love carries with it the dark potential to become great hatred unless it is founded in God.  As with the story of Uzzah yesterday, we see that life defies description.  Again we learn that what looks correct may not always be correct.  And we feel the full force of the lesson that we cannot make events occur nor can we prevent circumstances from overtaking us.  We can rest only in the surety that God is in us, that we are in God, and that our relationship with God is the only eternal and permanent promise that matters.

Uzzah, Michal and David teach us much.  Their stories might embolden or frighten us.  Their circumstances may cheer us or depress us.  Their lives may dissolve or transform us.  But in all of this, as we examine the lives of Uzzah, Michal and David . . . we have much to think about today.


A re-post from October 15, 2012.

Image from: https://www.artbible.info/art/large/717.html

To learn more about Michal and to put her story together, go to: http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/michal-bible or http://www.alabaster-jars.com/biblewomen-m.html or http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/Women-Of-The-Bible/a/021511-CW-Michal.htm

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2 Samuel 6: Part I: Uzzah

Monday, November 4, 2019

In several places, this chapter calls us to pause for reflection: We watch as Uzzah is struck down by the Lord, and we witness the turning of Michal’s love for her husband David turn to hatred.  Commentary will guide us through these puzzles but we are left with the lingering thought that there are always many ways to read the story of David.

We know that David’s life is full of ups and downs – just like our own.  We know that David feels the call of God and the call of the world – just like our own.  And we know that David is both strong and vulnerable – just as are we.  We might learn something about ourselves once we spend time with this story today.

Scholars explain the punishment of Uzzah saying that he had become too familiar with the ark since it had remained in his father’s house for some time.  Others say that he did not trust the Lord to rescue his own dwelling place, the Ark.  Some say that we must learn from this incident that we are to never question the clear authority of God.  And yet others say that we are to learn that we must practice acting in due time, listening for God’s call, and living in God’s plan.

I remember hearing this story as a child and thinking that it may have been possible that Uzzah had misunderstood God.  Perhaps he thought God asked him to reach out to steady the ark when in fact he had said that Uzzah ought not touch the cart.  In my child’s mind the world was black and white: we do what our elders tell us and all goes well.  In my adult life I know that life is much more complicated than this.  As we grown in God we learn that obeying rules does not keep us safe.  We discover that life does not follow guidelines and that it defies logic.  We understand that we must be grateful for all that goes well; we know that there are no guarantees; and we see that the innocent will often suffer unjustly.  We come to understand that rules and laws do not save us . . . that God is the only safety net we can trust.

David and Uzzah teach us all of this today when we allow this story to speak to us.


A re-post from October 14, 2012.

For more on Uzzah, click on the image above or go to: http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/death-and-the-dance-david-uzzah-and-the-ark-robert-leroe-sermon-on-gods-holiness-48196.asp and http://www.lookingfortigger.com/2012/06/12/the-uzzah-incident/

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Joshua 4: Memorial Stonesstanding stones

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

We have reflected on the contents we will find when we open the ark of our lives before God.  Will we find stone tablets with God’s law written upon them, or will we see an open and softened heart converted by God’s love?  Will we find manna of God’s word that we have kept for ourselves but forgotten to share, or will that sustaining Word be present in our interactions with God’s people and all creation?  And will we find the staff of life, the rod of God’s miracles in our lives kept in darkness, or will we see that it blooms in all we think and say and do as a result of our intimate relationship with Jesus?  What will we have saved as treasures and tokens of God’s active presence in our lives?  Will we want to unpack and re-pack what we find?  Will we be content with the content of the ark of our life?

Today’s Noontime continues this story of God’s power and willingness to save.  The Israelites have for a second time crossed a rushing body of water that under normal conditions would have swept them away; and what we read about now is their eagerness to record the wonder of this event, how they respond to God’s request that memorial stones be set in place to commemorate the bond between God and this people. And they agree to make a kind of outward and long-lasting verification of their internal union.  The stones are there to this day.

When we mark the wondrous times of our lives, we must do so with reverence and joy; we must share the good news of our entering into holy relationship.  We must pass the commemorative stories on; and we must be willing to allow the marking stones of our story to remain forever as a sign of God’s goodness.  The stones are there to this day. 

We can choose to dwell in the sadness of our journey or we can decide to celebrate and recount the saving power of God.  We can curse the darkness in our lives or we can delight in the love we share with our Lord.  We can grumble that God has not answered our prayer exactly as we would have liked, or we can set up memorial stones in honor of God’s goodness.  The stones are there to this day.

stones-stack-940x360When we stand before our maker, what will we bring with us?  What symbols will mark the celebrations in our lives?  Will the stones we haul into the waters of the Jordan be meager and small, or will they take effort to move, symbolizing in their greatness the enormity of God’s justice and mercy?  Will the stones that we set on the hill for all to see be the ones that lie most convenient to our hands, or will they be ones that take great effort and cooperation with God’s plan to bring to the memorial site?  They are there to this day.

When we are called out of chaos into truth and integrity, how will we mark that day?  Where will we place our monument?  And how will we answer our God?  This is what we must decide today.

Adapted from a reflection written on September 12, 2009.

 

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Sunday, November 18, 2012 – Wisdom 14 – Superstition

Castor and Pollux

When reading this chapter with footnotes, we will understand that calling a piece of wood here is a reference to the custom of calling upon the twin gods of Castor and Pollux for safety at sea.  “St. Elmo’s fire, the electric discharge from the ship’s mast during a thunderstorm, was regarded as their corporeal epiphany”.  According to Cyril of Alexandria (commenting on Acts 28:11), it was especially an Alexandrian custom to have pictures of the twins to right and left of the ship’s prow”.  (Meeks 1519)  The opening of this chapter reminds us of how foolish we are to pray to gods who do not exist when we will be wiser to appeal directly to God’s providence.  [I]t is your providence, O Father, that steers its course, because you have given it a path in the sea, and a safe way through the waves, showing that you can save from every danger, so that even a person who lacks skill may put to sea. 

I am thinking of the image of each of us as we put to sea each morning when we rise, to sail through the waters of the day, hoping to return to safe harbor at night.  Some of us are more skilled than others at navigating the waves of life, but when the storm clouds brew above us and the sea churns beneath us . . . who among us is not tempted to reach for a personal talisman as a security blanket to see us through?  When we sail with God, our expertise does not matter because even a person who lacks skill may put to sea. 

Notes tell us that verses 6 and 7 refer to the Ark of Noah and the wood of Christ’s cross: For even in the beginning when arrogant giants were perishing, the hope of the world took refuge on a raft, and guided by your hand left to the world the seed of a new generation.  For blessed is the wood by which righteousness comes.  These wooden objects save, because they are instruments of salvation that come directly from the Father. 

John Peter Glover: St. Elmo’s Fire

The rest of this chapter tells us that the idea of statue-making and idol worship is an invention of man when turning away from God.  We might smile when a friend or relative confesses an addiction to a pet superstition.  And we can understand the comfort that this panacea may bring . . . but the relief from anxiety is temporary . . . and lacking divinity . . . and eventually leading us to a destructive end.

It is difficult to give up our folk customs which give an immediate but false sense of security.  It may be frightening to put away old habits that lead to a temporary reprieve from worry; but then is it not even more frightening to embark on life’s tide each day without the master pilot in our ship?  Is it better to appeal to these short-lived superstitions . . . or turn to God who upholds us infinitely? 

Psalm 107 – Some sailed to the sea in ships . . . They reeled like drunken men, for all their skill was gone.

Mark 4:37-42 – A violent squall came up . . .

The Morning Star

Stepping out on our own is impossible, even with a million potions, sayings and powers in our hands.  Setting sail in a boat fashioned by the master shipbuilder’s hands, with sails sewn by his angels, with charts, sextant and compass as gifts from God . . . setting our course by the Morning Star . . . this is the wisdom that always leads us home. 

Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. Print.  (Meeks)

To learn more about the mythology of Castor and Pollux, click on the image above.  To learn more about Castor and Pollux and the Gemini constellation, go to: http://astroprofspage.com/archives/677 

For more information on the phenomenon of St. Elmo’s Fire, go to: http://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/climate-weather/atmospheric/st-elmo-fire.htm

For more about the Morning Star, click on the image above , or go to: http://www.futilitycloset.com/2009/10/03/the-morning-star-paradox/   or http://www.johnpratt.com/items/astronomy/eve_morn.html

http://www.johnpratt.com/items/astronomy/eve_morn.html or

Written on November 23, 2008. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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