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Posts Tagged ‘revenge’


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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Psalm 9: The Book of God’s Wonders

Monday, March 6, 2017psalms9_2-31

The MESSAGE version of this psalm speaks to us in our core. Anyone who has been wronged, anyone who has suffered injustice of any kind, anyone who looks for refuge in the storm of life will smile as they read these verses.

I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart, I’m writing the book on your wonders. I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy; I’m singing your song, High God.

What are the miracles of our relationship with God will we want to enter into the Book of God’s Wonders?

The day my enemies turned tail and ran, they stumbled on you and fell on their faces. You throw dirty players out of the game, wipe their names right off the roster. Enemies disappear from the sidelines, their reputation trashed, their names erased from the halls of fame.

We look for the patience to allow God’s plan to blossom and flourish.

God holds the high center, God sees and sets the world’s mess right. God’s a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you’re never sorry you knocked.

We pray for the hope we will need to remember God’s promise of safety, and we pray for the courage to knock at heaven’s door as Jesus tells us we must.

Sing your songs to Zion-dwelling God, tell God’s stories to everyone you meet: How God tracks down killers yet keeps an eye on us, registers every whimper and moan.

We pray for the fortitude to weather the storm, knowing that although the horizon is dark, God navigates our lives.

psalm-9_18Be kind to me, God; I’ve been kicked around long enough. Once you’ve pulled me back from the gates of death, I’ll write the book on Hallelujahs; on the corner of Main and First I’ll hold a street meeting; I’ll be the song leader; we’ll fill the air with salvation songs.

We pray for the courage to thank God in public and to share the stories we list in the Book of God’s Wonders.

They’re trapped, those godless, in the very snares they set, their feet all tangled in the net they spread. They have no excuse; the way God works is well-known. The cunning machinery made by the wicked has maimed their own hands.

We remember to intercede for those who would harm us.

The wicked bought a one-way ticket to hell. No longer will the poor be nameless—no more humiliation for the humble.

We ask for mercy for our enemies, and the grace to step away from the temptation to seek revenge.

Up, God! Aren’t you fed up with their empty strutting? Expose these grand pretensions! Shake them up, God! Show them how silly they look.

We ask God to steer us clear of all pretension. We ask that Christ lead us in the ways of the just. And we ask that the Holy Spirit abide in us forever, as we proclaim the wonders God has wrought for us.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to compare other translations of this Psalm, we discover that we have a great deal to record in The Book of God’s Wonders, and to share with all the world. 

 

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Leviticus 19:17-18: Loving Others – Part I

Tuesday, November 22, 2016christ-for-muslims

Don’t secretly hate your neighbor. If you have something against him, get it out into the open; otherwise you are an accomplice in his guilt. Don’t seek revenge or carry a grudge against any of your people. Love your neighbor as yourself. I am God. (MSG)

We have spent time with these verses before but we do well to spend a bit of time with again.

Do not bear a grudge against others, but settle your differences with them, so that you will not commit a sin because of them. Do not take revenge on others or continue to hate them, but love your neighbors as you love yourself. I am the Lord. (GNT)

We have reflected before on the importance of loving those who hate and we do well to reflect again.

You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord. (NASB)

God says: I know how difficult my Law of Love can be for you, especially when you have enemies who seek to bring about your end. Especially when others envy, hate, persecute and even kill you. There are times in your lives that are too difficult for you and that is fine. Bring me the injustice that plagues you. Bring me the worries that possess you. Bring me your sadness that threatens to destroy you. And bring me any joy you may have found in our journey over the last days – it does not matter how small it is. And if you have no happiness at all, just bring me yourself. I long to heal you. I long to console you. I long to hold you and call you my own. I long to be one with you.

For millennia the Lord has told us how we are to act when our sisters and brothers hate us.

Do not hate your brother in your heart, but rebuke your neighbor frankly, so that you won’t carry sin because of him. Don’t take vengeance on or bear a grudge against any of your people; rather, love your neighbor as yourself; I am Adonai. (CJB)

For millennia to come the Lord will abide, heal and comfort us, his little children. Let us behave each day as though we believe this to be so.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these words, we begin to understand that God knows how difficult the human life can be; we begin to recognize just how much we are loved; and we begin to find a way to return the great love we are given to a world waiting for healing.

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Ephesians 4:25-32: A Clean Break

Wednesday, April 20, 2016break-bad-habit

Friends advise us: Just make a clean break. Go cold turkey. Say no. Walk away. These words are easily heard and just as easily ignored for it is so difficult to break away from habits that feel so comfortable and people who are so predictable . . . despite the fact that these people and circumstances bring us pain. We listen – as did the Ephesians – to Paul’s advice. From THE MESSAGE:

No more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.

We tell ourselves to remain calm, to go with the flow. Paul has other words for us.

Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life

We convince ourselves that we harm no one if we remain in a dishonest relationship. Paul tells us differently.

Did you used to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.

We say to one another that our anger is justified. Paul reminds us that there is another way.

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

We believe that we are disconnected, abandoned, neglected or forgotten. Paul tells us otherwise.

holy spirit dove in flightDon’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.

In the end, Paul tells us, a clean break is better than a rotting connection.

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

 When we compare this translation with others, we find new meaning in old words.

Tomorrow, God’s shepherding love. 

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Matthew 18:21-35: The Unforgiving Servant, A Reprise

Tuesday, March 1, 2016immaculee02

We continue our journey of Lenten Gospels and today’s Noontime calls us to reprise a story we have heard many times, but may not have taken in. How do we forgive those who do us horrible damage? How do we move beyond our personal pain and fear? How we forgive endlessly and pray for our enemies? How do we allow God to transform harm into goodness? We might listen to the story told by Immaculée Ilibagiza in LEFT TO TELL: DISCOVERING GOD AMIDST THE RWANDAN HOLOCAUST (2006). The January 2012 Noontimes post gives us a great deal to think about.

For the original post, go to: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/01/17/the-unforgiving-servant/

Visit http.immaculee.com/ to see news interviews and to get a taste of the ideas Immaculée shares with us. 

left to tellAnd we continue our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “The dream of peace is an unreal and distant illusion,” let us think instead, “The dream of peace we hold is present in God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is now”.

Tomorrow, the law.

 

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Isaiah 54: Vindication


Isaiah 54: Vindication

Friday, November 27, 2015The-Tent

Enlarge the place of your tent; stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations and will resettle the desolate cities.

With this beautiful image of a heart that is willing to expand as it meets its creator, Isaiah asks us to contemplate the enormity, eternity, and healing power of God’s love for us.

From Princeton WordNet at wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn the definition of vindication: 1) the act of vindicating or defending against criticism or censure etc.; “friends provided a vindication of his position”, 2) defense: the justification for some act or belief; “he offered a persuasive defense of the theory”.  We read these words and realize that we may not have allowed ourselves to be defended by God when we see those who work against us fail at their unhealthy schemes.  In our effort to wipe any thought of revenge from our minds, we have missed out on the gift of God’s affirming action.  This is something to think about.

We are always hearing words of comfort from our God.  Fear not, you shall not be put to shame.  (Verse 4) In justice shall you be established, far from the fear of oppression, where destruction cannot come near you.  (Verse 14) No weapon fashioned against you shall prevail; every tongue you shall prove false that launches an accusation against you.  This is the lot of the servant of the Lord.  (Verse 17) 

We pause over verses 7 & 8:  For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great tenderness I will take you back.  In a burst of wrath, for a moment I hid my face from you; but with enduring love I take pity on you, says the Lord your redeemer.  We reflect on how Yahweh is so often described as a jealous God, wanting our full and total dedication to his truth.  We also recall the prophecy of Hosea when he cries in anguish over his wife’s infidelity and lack of respect for herself and others.  We understand the burst of wrath, the hidden face . . . and also the tenderness of true love which endures all things without accepting abuse.

isaiah 54We spend time meditating on verse 10:  Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord who has mercy on you.

God is good. God keeps promises . . . even when we do not.  When we have stood to affirm God’s goodness with full-throated song . . . we must allow ourselves to be vindicated.  For this indication is a hymn of praise to God and his wondrous, awesome power.

Adapted from a reflection written on November 27, 2008.

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1 Peter 5: At the Right Timetime-widescreen-high-definition-wallpaper-for-desktop-background-download-free

Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 3, 2015

Yesterday we considered the ancient words of the timeless covenant we share with God. Today we consider the words of Peter, a pastor who knows both this covenant and God’s people well.

All of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for God has had it with the proud, but takes delight in just plain people . . .

As we move through the coming hours, as we strive to be just plain, let us remove all judgment and anxiety from our thoughts.

Be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; God will promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; God is most careful with you . . .

As we move though the coming days, as we hope to put away airs and place ourselves in God’s strong hand, let us remove all recrimination and revenge from our actions.

Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up . . .

devil is a lionAs we move though the coming weeks, as we remember to keep a cool head when all around us seem to be losing theirs, let us work at remaining always in Christ.

You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world . . .

As we move though the coming months, as we work to remain always one in the Spirit, let us remind one another that we are not alone.

So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. 

As we move though the coming year, as we struggle to put our suffering in its proper place and proportion, let us unite with neighbors and enemies and remember that God will move us forward . . . in God’s best and most promising time.

These verses are from THE MESSAGE. Use the scripture link above to compare these verses with other versions, and discover God’s intimate message of continued Easter joy. 

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Matthew 5:38-42: Teaching about Retaliationlove heart afire

April 22, 2015

We humans often reject Jesus’ teaching about revenge. Whether we practice this teaching or struggle to understand it, this Eastertide is the season to open ourselves to God’s word anew.

To better understand the Law of Love as Jesus describes it, read different versions of these verses using the scripture link above, spend time with the Vengeance Noontime posted on June 20, 2013 at: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/06/20/vengeance/ Enter the word Revenge into the blog search bar and explore. Read the opening to Paul’s second letter to Timothy and consider how we might be bold with God’s gifts.

retaliationAnd consider how we might bring the Law of Love to our daily prayers, thoughts and actions.

Tomorrow, Jesus’ describes how we might love our enemies.

 

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Judges 16: The Strength of Samson

Reubens: Samson and Delilah

Reubens: Samson and Delilah

February 26, 2015

Then Delilah said to Samson, “How can you say that you love me when you do not confide in me?”

In this often-told Old Testament story we see how words can be used to deceive and conceal. Words of love can manipulate and destroy as well us build up and restore.

So he took her completely into his confidence and told her, “No razor has touched my head, for I have been consecrated to God from my mother’s womb”.

In this well-told Old Testament story we see how trust and betrayal both tug on the body, mind and soul.  Acts of deceit become preludes to acts of greatness when God is central to our lives.

Delilah had Samson sleep in her lap, and called for a man who shaved off his seven locks or hair. Then she began to mistreat him, for his strength had left him.

In this familiar Old Testament story we see how intimacy and revenge are dichotomous sisters in our modern lives. But always, as in this story, malice is superseded by God’s love.

Samson cried out to the Lord and said, “Oh Lord God, remember me! Strengthen me, O God.

In any array of negative emotion we call on God for strength; and so our fear, anger, and desire for revenge become hope, mercy and love.

Jesus reminds us: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

In this often-told Old Testament story we see how words can be used to deceive and conceal. In this often-told New Testament story we see how words of love can build up and restore. As we journey toward the Easter promise, let us reflect on the actions and words of Samson, Delilah and Jesus. Let us determine the source of our strength; and let us determine who we choose to follow and why.

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