Daniel 13: God’s Yardstick – Susanna
When Goodness attracts Evil
Valentin de Boulogne: The Judgment of Daniel or the Innocence of Susanna
Thursday, January 14, 2016
In these opening days of a new year, we look for ways to better see God’s yardstick in our lives, and for ways to leave the world’s yardstick behind.
Today’s Noontime is a beautiful but difficult story. An innocent, virtuous woman is wrongly accused; and an innocent yet wise child reveals lust and deceit. Goodness wins in the end; evil slithers away to return another day.
The idea that Susanna’s virtue is the reason for her trial is a frightening thought. Her parents took care, the story tells us, to bring her up in the ways of Yahweh. And this was what stirred the lascivious men.
What does Susanna do when accused? To whom does she turn? What does she say in her defense?
Through her tears she looked up to heaven, for she trusted in the Lord wholeheartedly . . . “Oh, eternal God, you know what is hidden and are aware of all things before they come to be: you know that they have testified falsely against me. Here I am about to die, though I have done none of the things with which these wicked men have charged me”. As the story continues, we see that the evil elders – whom the people had trusted – are done in by their own web of lies. The story unfolds as the child Daniel cries out: Now have your past sins come to term: passing unjust sentences, condemning the innocent, and freeing the guilty” . . . The whole assembly cried aloud, blessing God who saves those that hope in him. They rose up against the two elders, for by their own words Daniel had convicted them of perjury.
UK Parliament – John Rogers Herbert: The Judgment of Daniel
The end of this story is immediately satisfying. Unfortunately for us, situations like these in our own lives may endure many days or months or years before the lies against us are revealed; yet revealed they will be for God’s goodness and truth always overcome darkness. The measuring stick that Susanna uses, and that we must use, is to follow Yahweh, the creator who molds us from star dust for the purpose of love alone.
Our task, as followers of Christ, is to faithfully and persistently petition God, to fall back into the comfort of the Holy Spirit, to model ourselves after Jesus, and to continue to hope in the covenant promise that we are eternally forgiven and saved. We might remind ourselves of the gifts we receive when we use God’s yardstick at the troubling times in our lives. The message of Daniel is clear: When goodness attracts evil – as it surely will – the faithful need not fight; they need only rely on God . . . and never allow themselves to be separated in any way from their God who measures life in so loving a way. And so we pray . . .
The gift of persistence calls us to rely on the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
The gift of faith asks us to place our petitions in God’s hands.
The gift of hope in the person of Jesus shows us how to offer love on behalf of our enemies.
The gift of life itself asks us to allow goodness and truth to conquer lust, lies and deceit. Amen.
A favorite from Saturday, November 21, 2009.
Enter the name Susanna in the blog search bar for more reflections about this woman.
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