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Posts Tagged ‘David’


2 Samuel 13Seeking Intimacy

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Desire, love, lust.  Lashing back in hurt and surprise, angry retaliation, calculated revenge.  Family relations churn and twist as we read this story which is similar and yet different from the stories of Bathsheba and Dinah, as the HARPER COLLINS COMMENTARY points out.  Family values and family sickness shatter human lives as these people roil in deceit and turmoil.  David, the father, king and leader, does nothing . . . can do nothing . . . but watch as his family self destructs – for he himself is culpable.  As the commentary states: David’s hands are tied because his sons are merely mimicking his own sick behavior.  These people seek intimacy with one another and with God . . . and do not find it . . . because they look in the wrong place.  True intimacy lies in the process, in the journey, in the progress of the soul.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT:

There are two messages today: first, we have to hold on to absolute responsibility for real order and commitment to the Lord God.  Second, the fundamental character of life is a true waiting, hard for Occidentals to comprehend, especially for modern people.  Life means waiting, not Faust-like grasping, but waiting and being ready.  We are waiting for the terror of the night, and waiting for the day when this terror will have passed.  “The people will languish from fearful expectation”.  Anyone who remains stuck, waiting in fearful expectation just to see whether or not he will survive, has not yet laid bare the innermost strata.  For the fearful expectation was sent to us in order to remove our false sense of security and behind it is this other metaphysical waiting that is part of existence.  Man is always in danger of rooting himself, of running aground.  Over and over again, life will shake anyone who waits in that way, in order to make him hurry out to meet what is coming.  Then what vitality he has been given will come to life.  Then he will feel that life goes above and beyond individual lives.  Only in this way will he be truly human, by living above and beyond himself, waiting for the final reality.  That is the reason for this striving and seeking further and knowing it will one day come: to wait until the lights flare up. 

We have more expectation than earth can grant, because what we encounter in only a piece of reality, a piece of creation.  We are waiting for the fulfillment of a promise: You will one day possess all this because God, as God, is himself reality, realness, and intimacy.

Father Alfred Delp, S.J.  – condemned to death in Germany in 1945

If we might only think about the dual choice that faces us daily – complaining or rejoicing.

If we might only seek what is best for us today – our singular selves or our unity with God.

If we might only become one with God today . . . and all days . . . how much better we might see God’s creation and our place in it.


For some beautiful images of God’s creation in the Canadian Rockies visit Patrick Latter’s Photography blog at: http://hikingphoto.com/ or click on the image above.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation for the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 1 July 2008. Print.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 270-271. Print.

Image from: http://hikingphoto.com/

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2 Samuel 2: Abner

First Sunday of Lent, March 10, 2019

Abner

Written on March 5, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Abner was Saul’s general – a courageous and loyal man.  He found himself serving Saul at the time that the power and prestige of the House of Saul was waning while that of the House of David was waxing.  After Saul’s death, Abner and David reconcile, but one of Saul’s remaining sons, Ishbaal, trumps up charges about Abner and Rizpah (one of Saul’s concubines).  We see peace and unity again threatened by plotting and division.  Abner is murdered, David laments.  We can see what happens to Ishbaal in the next chapter, but what we see here is an ever-resent theme in the human drama: Humans always seem to succumb to envy and greed.

What do I do when I meet the Abners, Ishbaals, Joabs, Davids and Sauls in my life?  What do I do when presented with the possibility of union with people from whom I have (with good cause) previously kept my distance?  How do I know if an enemy heart has been converted?  How do I respond to the hand offered in peace?  How do I know if that hand is truly offered in peace?  We do not have the human answers to these questions; but we know what we must do.  We must trust God.

From today’s morning prayers and readings:

Isaiah 40:1: Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem . . .

Isaiah 49:13: The Lord comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted.

Psalm 103: The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.

Psalm 145: The Lord is faithful in all his words and holy in all his works.  The Lord lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.  The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.

We have no way of reading human hearts and minds.  We can rely on our gut reactions to people and circumstances, we can imagine what someone may be thinking or doing . . . but we cannot know for certainty what occurs deep within someone else’s mind, heart and soul.  That is for God to know . . . that is for God to handle.

David and Abner

In today’s reading, David asks that the Lord requite the evildoers in accordance with the sin committed.  This is an Old Testament response.  We are New Testament people, so how do we respond to acts of betrayal?  By moving into intercessory prayer for those who have done us harm, by relying on the goodness and mercy and justice of our God, by asking for this mercy and justice for ourselves and for our enemies.

The Lord is faithful in all his words and holy in all his works.  

We are God’s word as adopted brothers and sisters of Christ.  We are God’s works in this world where we have been planted.  How do we respond to the Abners, Joabs and Ishbaals in our lives?


For more on this story click on the images above or go to: http://patty-patcards.blogspot.com/2010/12/people-multiple-choice-in-what-city-did.html and http://sharingknowledge.org/wb/pages/bible-studies/history-of-the-characters-of-the-bible/king-david.php#wb_section_423

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.5 (2008). Print.  

A re-post from March 10, 2012.

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1 Samuel 24Escape

Monday, November 19, 2018

Rembrandt: Saul and David

Several weeks ago, we reflected on celebrating escape from something or someone who would have brought us great ruin or harm.  Yesterday’s Gospel gave us the opportunity to examine how Jesus is able to escape the traps laid for him by those who hated him.  Today we take a look at a small portion of the story of David, the young man who is designated as King of Israel by Samuel but who waits his turn as leader of God’s chosen people by resisting the temptation to fight against Saul.  David does not deny that he has been chosen King, nor does he murder Saul in order to take what is his; rather, he abides in God’s will and God’s time . . . and he takes the routes of escape that God offers while he actively waits on the fulfillment of God’s plan.

Today we read the story of how God saved his imperfect yet faithful servant and we are no less than David.

Today we read the story of how David relied on his God’s constancy . . . and he did not allow fear to turn him toward revenge or cowardice.

In yesterday’s Gospel (Matthew 22:15-21) we read the story of how Jesus confronted prejudice and hatred and we do well to follow his example.

In yesterday’s Gospel we were given a road map for how to escape manipulation and scheming.  We must rely on God always, remain faithful to the covenant God shares with us, and always act in love and for love of God.  In this way we will always know escape from anything danger or evil that hopes to overtake us.

And so we pray . . .

When the call to do God’s work pulls us into alien and dangerous territory, we must rely on God’s wisdom and not our own.

When the hand of God heals us and then sends us out to do God’s work, we must rely on God’s fidelity and nurture our own.

When the voice of God urges us to work in fields are that unfamiliar to us and that sap our energy, we must rely on God’s strength and conserve our own.

When the heart of God sends us to work with those who would do us harm, we must rely on God’s love and hope for redemption.   Amen.


A re-post from October 17, 2011. 

Images from: http://www.aaroneberline.com/blog/tag/david/ and http://www.artbible.info/art/large/378.html

 

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2 Samuel 10Open to Failure

Monday, October 15, 2018

Dorè: David Attacks the Ammonites

We might take a lesson from both David and the Ammonites today; and each of these lessons will save us suffering if we can be open to their message.  From the Ammonites who expect insult and war, we see that when we take a bellicose stance, we guarantee our suffering.  It seems we humans are often eager to fulfill our own dark hope.  Nestled against Israel’s eastern boundary, this tribe may have felt a kind of national inferiority.  Along with the Moabites, these descendents of Lot struggled to maintain peace within and along their borders.  Rightly or wrongly, the young king Hanun took an aggressive stance against David when he rejected David’s offer of amity and instead sought allegiance against Israel with the Arameans, another small kingdom to the north.  All hope for independence is dashed and in the end these Ammonites – whose rudeness stirs the Israelites to revenge – becomes subject to Israel, and the Arameans stand down from their aggressive posture.  We can never know if David somehow plotted in hopes that this scheme would bring him a vassal state; but we can easily see that the ultimate outcome for the Ammonites was the same – or perhaps even worse.  When we expect insult and take a bellicose stance, we guarantee our suffering.

Van Honthorst: King David Playing the Harp

The major player in this reading is, of course, David and from him today we might learn: We are most open to failure when we are at our most secure.  From the HarperCollins Bible Commentary, “If, on the one hand, we think of the Ammonite war as after the events of chap. 8, we are struck by the rapidity with which what appeared secure has again become a threat. If, on the other hand, we read the war account as a flashback, we may be struck by the irony of the context in which David’s adultery and murder have been set.  It is at the very peak of his power, when YHWY is giving him victory wherever he goes (8:14), that the king most conspicuously fails.  Security breeds insecurity; success incubates failure.  It is as the gift of the kingdom is being made complete that YHWY’s chosen one chooses to grasp most rapaciously what is not his to grasp.  In short, it is at his most secure that David turns out to be most open to failure”.  (Mays 269)

We know this statement to be true if we take an honest look at our own lives and at the lives of friends and enemies.  Cinema and literature reinforce the universal concept that we learn from our mistakes rather than our successes.  We also know that we are most conciliatory, most ready to listen, and most open to change when we are faced with multiple obstacles; and that we are most closed, most deaf to common sense, and most eager to control our environment and others when we are at the peak of accomplishment.  All of this is perhaps because we have forgotten some central truths: that God is the author of all good, that we can choose to enter into this goodness with God or we can choose reject God in the belief that we alone are responsible for all that has gone well in our lives.  In short, it is at our most secure that we turn out to be most open to failure.

In David’s actions and thinking, and in the actions and thinking of the Ammonites, we discover the hidden pitfalls of success and promises of disappointment.  We find an openness to failure that is certain to bring great pain and a guarantee of hardship and suffering.  None of this suggests that success is something to be avoided or that failure is the mark of holiness.  On the contrary, we experience happiness and joy despite our failures and along with our successes at precisely those times when we nurture an openness to God and forego our natural tendency to remain open to failure.


A re-post from September 12, 2011.

For more information about the Ammonites we might take a look at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01431b.htm and http://www.bible-history.com/geography/maps/map_of_ammonites_territory.html. OR https://www.britannica.com/topic/Ammonite 

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 269. Print.

Images from: http://www.mundellchristianchurch.com/art/2Sam-12-David-Attacks-the-Ammonites.html

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2 Samuel 19:2-15Dreams Unrealized 

Monday, June 25, 2018

David evidently was in denial about his son Absalom.  All we need do to read about this young man’s abuse of the status and power given to him is leaf back a few pages to Chapters 13 through 18 to read the details of his story.  It is not positive.  Yet, David mourns the loss of this child, ignoring the horror that Absalom played out even against his own father.  We watch David struggle with the reality he does not want to see and now in this reading we watch David give over to his grief completely.  We wonder . . . does he mourn the loss of what actually was?  Or does he mourn the loss of what might have been?  We have no way of knowing.

Joab approaches David with words that eventually bring about a reconciliation between king and people.  His words are harsh and to the point; David comprehends quickly.  The greater offense here seems to be not so much that David mourns the loss of a child but that he appears to be oblivious to the harm this child’s behavior has brought about.   Many of us can identify with this.  We have likely gone to a family member or friend to try to being clarity to a murky situation only to be accused of speaking ill or of causing problems.   When delivering bad news, we must always be prepared to be blamed; and if we are not, we can breathe a sigh of relief and thank God.

In today’s story, David’s fragile state becomes apparent despite Joab’s recalling him to the realities of his role as leader and king.  We may not be as fortunate as Joab; but whether we are believed or rejected, we must consider the difficulty we bring someone when we bring bad news about a loved one; and we must deliver our words carefully.  If we are the ones who receive this bad news . . . we must be prepared to see another’s reality or else . . .  Not a single man will remain with you overnight, and this will be a far greater disaster for you than any that has afflicted you from your youth until now.

Whether we be Joab or David, we do well to remember that dreams fulfilled are welcome allies while dreams not realized are formidable enemies.  If we hope to step out to sit at the gate as David does, if we hope to bring the dreadful truth to someone so that it is heard as Joab does . . . we do well to enter the interaction carefully, and always include God in the exchange.   Only then can we hope for reconciliation.


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on June 25, 2011.

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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/

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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.

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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. 

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2 Samuel 14 & 15: Deceit – Part II

Alexandre Cabanel: Thamar

Thursday, November 9, 2017

We see Absalom set himself up as heir to a throne he will not inherit.  We see him strip away all that is holy from his life.  Reading ahead, we see him die a ridiculous death, hanging by his hair from a terebinth tree while one of David’s soldiers runs him through with a spear.  Absalom plots for years to murder his brother for the rape of their sister, Tamar.  Absalom relies on the very human resources of power, looks and cleverness to win for him the vengeful goals he lays out for himself.  It is clear that Absalom does not consult God as he enters into and executes his plans.

Absalom was a prince of a powerful nation.  It was written that: In all of Israel not a man could so be praised for his beauty as Absalom, who was without blemish from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.  (14:25)  But what had become of his soul?  How had the events of his childhood so shaped him to produce such anger?  Why were the gifts he had received from a loving God not enough to please him?  What was it that made him always want more?

Upon his return from exile, Absalom falls to the ground at his father’s feet when he is pardoned.  He then stands, and leaves the palace to set his newest grab for power into motion.  He employs deceit to win friends and enemies alike rather than obedience to God as his game plan.  He relies on his influence and charm . . . and for awhile these tools prove a powerful arsenal; but in the end they are not enough.  In the end, Absalom . . . the master deceiver . . . is himself deceived.  He returns from Geshur and continues to weave the labyrinth of his life with chariots, horses and henchmen all the while forgetting that . . . the proper response to pardon is a grateful heart.  Let us learn a lesson from Absalom’s ruin.

For more information about the people and places in this reflection, visit yesterday’s post, Deceit – Part I. 

A Favorite from November 21, 2008.

 

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