Posts Tagged ‘God alone’

2 Maccabees 10Battle – Part IV

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Friday, March 9, 2018

Second Maccabees is a narration of the revolt led by the Maccabeus family in the second century before Christ.  Part of this narrative is a description of the political intrigue accompanying the physical battle.  We can imagine the plotting and counter-plotting that took place.  Chapter 10 describes how the faithful purified and re-dedicated their temple after they removed the profane statues placed in the sanctuary by Antiochus Epiphanes.  We arrive breathless at the end of the chapter to read: . . . with hymns and thanksgiving they blessed the Lord who shows great kindness to Israel and gives them the victory. 

We will find ourselves from time to time in a place of battle, unable to fully hear or see in the dust and din of clashing fears and realities.  In these times of cacophony, it is difficult to hear the difference between the voice of God and our ego-centrist, inner voice of survival.  For this reason, we turn to God frequently during our days and nights so that we might best hear God’s voice and respond to it rather than our own.  During times of stress, we might fall back on John 10 in which Jesus tells us that faithful sheep will know the voice of the true shepherd so well that they will follow no other.   This shepherd we follow is one who forgives continually, calls endlessly, and waits patiently.   This shepherd will not lead falsely, will not abandon the flock, and he will go out in search of the last lost sheep to return it to the fold.

We are in the beginning of our Lenten journey and we are just commencing to unpack the baggage we have been carrying all winter.  What is it we need to re-sanctify and re-pack?  What is it that we need to sweep away forever?  What is it that brings us such confusion that we cannot decide how to handle it?  What are the battles we can wage on our own, and what are the battles we must hand over to God?  Which of these battles are psychological?  Which are emotional or physical?  And which are purely spiritual?

All of these questions ask us to examine our own motivations and actions, but the most important questions are these. How do we thank God under all circumstances for the gift of who we are and what we have been called to be? What hymns of thanksgiving do we sing to bless the Lord?  How do we tell this one who shows us great kindness and who gives us victory in our battles, that we are God’s and God’s alone?

Adapted from a reflection written on February 23, 2010. 

Image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_IV_Epiphanes

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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.  

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Saturday, October 13, 2012 – 2 Samuel 8 & 9 – After Conflict . . . Mercy

King David

This is such a straightforward story.  David is anointed king but must battle years against Saul while he waits for the crown to come to him in God’s time.  Jonathan, the son of Saul, is his boon companion in battle and in peace.  Theirs is a story worth reading.

Both Saul and Jonathan die during this conflict which leaves a vacuum for a time . . . and this is where we enter the story today.  When the dust settles, David is victorious and becomes king.  In his first days as king, he restores what was lost to the son of his friend Jonathan.  David embodies mercy.  This is why we regard him as great.  He loves.

Verses 15-18 of Chapter 8 remind me of Acts 2:42-47.  After tremendous strife there comes the lull, like the brilliant blue skies after a cloud-sweeping hurricane.  After violence and death, there is always the potent force of peace, of mercy; but there is also something always lurking – the trap door of forgetting God.  For David his sin is succumbing to the temptation of Bathsheba – the mother of Solomon.  He takes her willfully, joins with her, impregnates her, and lays a trap to murder her husband.  Then later – after his sin is cleverly pointed out by the prophet Nathan, he despairs of his actions and repents.  This is also why we regard him as great.  He atones.

“Bathsheba was capable, subtle, and gifted. She produced a son, Solomon, whose wisdom and intellectual brilliance would be known throughout history”.
Frank Dicksee: Leilahttp://www.womeninthebible.net/1.11.Bathsheba.htm  

In times of plenty we ought to rejoice, but we also must hold ourselves ready for the temptations which always follow when tensions ease.  Perhaps a little conflict is a good thing – it keeps us prepared for what is important.  It prevents us from thinking that we alone are sufficient.  It reminds us that God alone is enough.  This is the greatest lesson David brings to us.  He remembers . . . that even in cataclysmic times we must show mercy . . . for we will want mercy shown to us in like fashion.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive . . .


Written on October 16, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

To see two short video clips from NOVA about the unearthing of the walls of Jerusalem and its palace, click on the image of David above and go through the six slides, or go to: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/maza-01.html

To read more about Bathsheba, click on the image of “Leila” above or go to: http://www.womeninthebible.net/1.11.Bathsheba.htm

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