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Posts Tagged ‘Philistines’


1 Samuel 6No Strange God

Friday, December 7, 2018

Written on January 12 and posted today as a  Favorite . . .

This is a portion of the Ark story we might find interesting.  In earlier chapters, the Philistines have taken the Ark, hoping to benefit from what they believe to be its extraordinary power.  What they do not understand is that the Ark is not an object of magic or superstition to be used as they wish.  What it does hold is this: Aaron’s staff which bloomed as a sign of God’s presence when the Hebrews were captive in Egypt, manna that sustained them in the desert as they journeyed toward the land promised to them by God, and the tablets of commandments given them by God through Moses.  It is not the Ark which now sustains the Israelites in battle as they struggle to maintain their identity in a world that wishes to eliminate them, it is God himself.  And this is something the Philistines do not understand.  Things have gone badly for them since they seized the Ark in a raid and now they wonder how to best dispose of it.

We enter the story today and watch as they determine what to do.  There are wonderful lessons to be learned from all of this.

First, God does not exist in some inanimate object.  God is within and without because God is everywhere.  We cannot hide from God, nor can we sort of summon God and put him away when we do and do not want him present.  Because God is everywhere, we need never fear that we are alone; and we must work to form our best relationship with God.

Second, we cannot somehow seize, steal or borrow someone else’s successful relationship with God.  We cannot pretend with God, nor can we fake anything with God.  Because God is authentic, it is impossible to form a false bond with him; and our best connection will be one that is open, honest, and humble.

Third, we cannot manipulate God in any way.  We cannot bargain, control or wheedle our way into God’s goodness, nor can we avoid God in any way.  Because God is omnipotent, it is impossible to out-maneuver God; and the best way to interact with him is with frankness and readiness to do God’s will.

There is, no doubt, much we might say about this reading; but the simple message is this: Our honesty, authenticity, security and humility are key to a healthy relationship with God.

In today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer mini-reflection we read: Now and then, God’s people of old needed to be reminded of the care with which his love had surrounded and protected them.  Now and then we do too!  This introduces a canticle from Deuteronomy 32:3-7, 10-12.  You may want to read it today.  It concludes . . . The Lord alone was their leader, no strange god was with him.

The Philistines do not understand the true source of Israel’s power.  Believing it to come from a magic box, they do not comprehend that true power and authority comes from an honest, authentic and humble relationship with God.  We hold this in our hands and feet each day.  Our power comes from the way we act out our relationship with God.  Let us pray for the grace to accept this gift, for the meekness to allow God to work within us, and the serenity that comes from knowing that we are secure in God who has no strange gods with him.


A re-post from November 4, 2011.

Images from: http://areureallyawake.wordpress.com/tag/gods-love/page/2/ and http://www.mishkanministries.org/theark.php 

Cameron, Peter John, ed. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 12.1 (2011): Print.  

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The Bristol Psalter: The Capture of David by the Philistines

Psalm 56: When I Fear

Second Sunday of Lent, February 25, 2018

David wrote this psalm when the Philistines in Gath captured him. These verses, especially when we compare varying versions, have much to teach us about how to react to our fears. From THE MESSAGE version, verses 2 and 3.

Not a day goes by
    but somebody beats me up;
They make it their duty
    to beat me up.

When I get really afraid
    I come to you in trust.
I’m proud to praise God;
    fearless now, I trust in God. (MSG)

We may or may not live in circumstances that call for these words. If we do not, we count ourselves as blessed; but if fear does not govern our days and nights, we offer these words for those who gather in hiding places.

My enemies make trouble for me all day long;
    they are always thinking up some way to hurt me!
They gather in hiding places
    and watch everything I do,
    hoping to kill me. (GNT)

With New Testament thinking, we focus on the first line in this stanza as we pray for our enemies, knowing that their anger has locked them in a prison of hate.

Because of their crime, they cannot escape;
in anger, God, strike down the peoples.
You have kept count of my wanderings;
store my tears in your water-skin —
aren’t they already recorded in your book? (CJB)

Stepping into the protective presence of the Lord, we rejoice with verses 9 to 11, knowing that nothing of this world is lasting, and no one in this world can destroy the soul.

This I know, that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I am not afraid.
    What can a mere mortal do to me? (NRSV)

Remembering God’s goodness, we sing verses 12 and 13. We recall our promises to God, and we consider what we might return to God as a sign that we are willing to give our fear over to the One who knows our world best.

O God, I will offer you what I have promised;
    I will give you my offering of thanksgiving,
because you have rescued me from death
    and kept me from defeat.
And so I walk in the presence of God,
    in the light that shines on the living. (GNT)

On this second Sunday of Lent, we remember that this psalm came to us out of David’s anguish in Gath. We remember that God abides with David through this and other catastrophes. And we consider how we might rejoice as we allow God to transform all our fear into delight.

For commentary on David in Gath, visit: http://www.keyway.ca/htm2005/20051212.htm 

Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/379780181051624727/ 

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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 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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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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