Posts Tagged ‘Goliath’

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. 



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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. 

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1 Samuel 17: The Way of Christ

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Caravaggio: David and Goliath

A Favorite from August 16, 2009.

This is a story we know well, and yet we might want to pause in order to spend time with a few details.

  • Battle armor and brave words do not protect Goliath from the truth of David’s one small stone. We might reflect that . . . bluster, barricades and weapons do not serve us as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • While David’s oldest brothers go off to fight against the Philistines with Saul, David tends his father’s sheep in Bethlehem. We might reflect that . . . although our work may often seem insignificant, it is always on target when we obey God as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • David leaves his flock with another shepherd when he takes roasted grain and cheeses to the battlefield for the troops. We might reflect that . . . even in the midst of our work, we must remember to shepherd those who follow us as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • David’s brothers are jealous not only of the bravery which stems from David’s special relationship with Yahweh but also because David comes to Saul’s attention for the question he repeatedly asks: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should insult the armies of the living king?” We might reflect that . . . we are often the target of jealousy when we are faithful and courageous as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • David says with confidence to Saul: “The Lord, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear, will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine”. We might reflect that . . . we too, may place our hope in God’s promises as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • David rejects Saul’s unwieldy warrior garments and tools so that he might take up and use the tools he knows best: smooth stones and his slingshot. We might reflect that . . . rather than arms and physical strength, our petitions of intercession on behalf of our enemies are our most powerful weapons as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • David answers the enemy’s challenge with these famous words: “You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of armies of Israel that you have insulted . . . All this multitude, too, shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he shall deliver you into our hands”. We might reflect that . . . when the crowd jeers and when we appear to be defeated, we too serve as an example of how God saves and restores as we travel along The Way of Christ.  When we rise after apparent defeat, we are justified by God as we travel along The Way of Christ.

This is an old and familiar story against a backdrop of violence, yet it holds simple and valuable lessons for us today.  They are . . .

  • we must believe the story we have heard,
  • we must hope in the promise we have been given, and
  • we must enact love in the world as a sign that . . .
  • we travel along The Way of Christ.

In so doing, the many false and boasting Goliaths who confront us will fall permanently as we journey along The Way of Christ.

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Asherah is seen as Isis in ancient Egypt

Asherah is seen as Isis in ancient Egypt

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Amos 6

Third Woe

Amos tries to reach us for a third time with his vivid images that paint a scene we cannot ignore, with wonderfully descriptive words that create sights we see even with eyes closed.

The complacent . . . The overconfident . . .

Calneh was a winter residence of the Parthian kings. Nothing now remains but the ruins of a palace and mounds of rubbish.

Hastening the reign of violence . . .

Hamath the Great was a fortress capital of one of the kingdoms of Upper Syria.  Its greatness has now faded.

Lying upon beds of ivory. Stretching comfortably on couches.

Gath one of the five royal cities of the Philistines and the native place of the giant Goliath. Its original site has long been lost.

Eating the lambs and calves. Improvising music. Devising their own accompaniment.

Lodebar a place on the east side of the Jordan River whose exact location is not known today.

Drinking wine from bowls. Anointing themselves with the best oils. Not made ill by the collapse Joseph. These shall go first into exile.

Karnaim, originally the city of Og, king of Bashan, appears in Books of Genesis, Joshua, and 1 and 2 Chronicles.  The name denotes a place associated with the worship of the goddess Asherah. These ancient names of peoples and places no longer influence our world.

Only a few shall be left. The remnant will remain to bury the dead and to stare out over the rubble.

From Labo of Hamath to the Wadi of Arabah . . . from one end of our kingdom to the other . . . all that is known to us . . . our entire world . . . all this shall be gone.

Can horses run across a cliff? Can one plow the sea with oxen?

What do we do with these woes of Amos?  As we continue our Lenten journey, we may want to sit with these images awhile . . . and determine what it is we worship today . . . what places and people do we think will never fade . . . what acts do believe God does not see . . . how do we ready ourselves to be remnant?

For more on Asherah and her various manifestations in ancient and modern cultures, click on the image above or go to: http://www.ascensionministries.net/theJezebelSpirit/theSpiritOfJezebel.php

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