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Posts Tagged ‘Saul’


Acts 7:54-60: Martyrdom

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Andre de Giusto (Manzini): Stoning of Saint Stephen

It is difficult to connect the idea with God as a Good Shepherd to accounts like today’s NoontimeIn this famous scene of Stephen’s martyring, we have much to observe, much to absorb.   On this Sunday when we celebrate good shepherding, let us pause to examine the story and ourselves; and let us reflect.

When the crowd heard Stephen name them as stiff-necked and in opposition to the holy Spirit, they were infuriated and they ground their teeth at him.

How often do we gnash our own teeth and plot our arguments when we hear others make statements we do not believe?

But Stephen, filled with the holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

How often are we able to put aside our rising anger and look for God and Jesus in the ugliness we see before us?

The crowd covered their ears, cried out against Stephen and rushed toward him.

How often do we rush against witnessing when we hear words that call us to something greater than we are willing to be?

They threw him out of the city and, and began to stone him.

How often are we more intent on silencing someone than listening to their inspiring and heart-felt words?

The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the foot of a young man named Saul.

How often do we gloat in silence while others suffer?

As Stephen fell beneath the stones he cried out, “Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit”.

How often do we stand by and watch as injustice takes place?

Stephen said with his last breath, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”.

How often are we able to forgive those who transgress against us?  How often do we intercede for our enemies before our forgiving and loving God?

When we are in turmoil and pain and we look for the Good Shepherd to lead us to safety, where do we look?  We find good shepherds amidst the mayhem of life, in the fury of human battles, and in the chaos of darkness that seeks to overtake the light.  We find good shepherds tending to the shunned and the belittled, living with the marginalized and forgotten, healing the lonely and broken-hearted.  And once we find our Good Shepherd, this best of all shepherds, we must follow where he leads.  This following may take us along dangerous paths and through storm-tossed seas.  We may want to cover our ears and gnash our teeth as do the witnesses we hear about today.  We may, like Stephen, feel ourselves falling beneath the weight of too many stones thrown in rage against us; and we may see too late the martyrdom that overtakes us.

When we find ourselves backed up against a howling, angry pack . . . we, like Stephen, must also look to God and to Jesus.  And we must give ourselves over to the Spirit.  We will likely be surprised by the miracle in store for us.

This week we will read more stories about the man Saul at whose feet Stephen’s attacked tossed their cloaks.  We will see the miracle of this man’s conversion as he witnessed the martyring of Stephen.  And we will remember that God always pulls goodness out of evil acts; God always calls forth miracles from martyrdom.  For this reason alone . . . we must not be afraid.


A re-post from April 29, 2012.

Image from: http://all-art.org/DICTIONARY_of_Art/a/Andrea_Giusto1.htm

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2 Samuel 2: Abner

First Sunday of Lent, March 10, 2019

Abner

Written on March 5, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Abner was Saul’s general – a courageous and loyal man.  He found himself serving Saul at the time that the power and prestige of the House of Saul was waning while that of the House of David was waxing.  After Saul’s death, Abner and David reconcile, but one of Saul’s remaining sons, Ishbaal, trumps up charges about Abner and Rizpah (one of Saul’s concubines).  We see peace and unity again threatened by plotting and division.  Abner is murdered, David laments.  We can see what happens to Ishbaal in the next chapter, but what we see here is an ever-resent theme in the human drama: Humans always seem to succumb to envy and greed.

What do I do when I meet the Abners, Ishbaals, Joabs, Davids and Sauls in my life?  What do I do when presented with the possibility of union with people from whom I have (with good cause) previously kept my distance?  How do I know if an enemy heart has been converted?  How do I respond to the hand offered in peace?  How do I know if that hand is truly offered in peace?  We do not have the human answers to these questions; but we know what we must do.  We must trust God.

From today’s morning prayers and readings:

Isaiah 40:1: Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem . . .

Isaiah 49:13: The Lord comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted.

Psalm 103: The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.

Psalm 145: The Lord is faithful in all his words and holy in all his works.  The Lord lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.  The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.

We have no way of reading human hearts and minds.  We can rely on our gut reactions to people and circumstances, we can imagine what someone may be thinking or doing . . . but we cannot know for certainty what occurs deep within someone else’s mind, heart and soul.  That is for God to know . . . that is for God to handle.

David and Abner

In today’s reading, David asks that the Lord requite the evildoers in accordance with the sin committed.  This is an Old Testament response.  We are New Testament people, so how do we respond to acts of betrayal?  By moving into intercessory prayer for those who have done us harm, by relying on the goodness and mercy and justice of our God, by asking for this mercy and justice for ourselves and for our enemies.

The Lord is faithful in all his words and holy in all his works.  

We are God’s word as adopted brothers and sisters of Christ.  We are God’s works in this world where we have been planted.  How do we respond to the Abners, Joabs and Ishbaals in our lives?


For more on this story click on the images above or go to: http://patty-patcards.blogspot.com/2010/12/people-multiple-choice-in-what-city-did.html and http://sharingknowledge.org/wb/pages/bible-studies/history-of-the-characters-of-the-bible/king-david.php#wb_section_423

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.5 (2008). Print.  

A re-post from March 10, 2012.

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1 Samuel 24Escape

Monday, November 19, 2018

Rembrandt: Saul and David

Several weeks ago, we reflected on celebrating escape from something or someone who would have brought us great ruin or harm.  Yesterday’s Gospel gave us the opportunity to examine how Jesus is able to escape the traps laid for him by those who hated him.  Today we take a look at a small portion of the story of David, the young man who is designated as King of Israel by Samuel but who waits his turn as leader of God’s chosen people by resisting the temptation to fight against Saul.  David does not deny that he has been chosen King, nor does he murder Saul in order to take what is his; rather, he abides in God’s will and God’s time . . . and he takes the routes of escape that God offers while he actively waits on the fulfillment of God’s plan.

Today we read the story of how God saved his imperfect yet faithful servant and we are no less than David.

Today we read the story of how David relied on his God’s constancy . . . and he did not allow fear to turn him toward revenge or cowardice.

In yesterday’s Gospel (Matthew 22:15-21) we read the story of how Jesus confronted prejudice and hatred and we do well to follow his example.

In yesterday’s Gospel we were given a road map for how to escape manipulation and scheming.  We must rely on God always, remain faithful to the covenant God shares with us, and always act in love and for love of God.  In this way we will always know escape from anything danger or evil that hopes to overtake us.

And so we pray . . .

When the call to do God’s work pulls us into alien and dangerous territory, we must rely on God’s wisdom and not our own.

When the hand of God heals us and then sends us out to do God’s work, we must rely on God’s fidelity and nurture our own.

When the voice of God urges us to work in fields are that unfamiliar to us and that sap our energy, we must rely on God’s strength and conserve our own.

When the heart of God sends us to work with those who would do us harm, we must rely on God’s love and hope for redemption.   Amen.


A re-post from October 17, 2011. 

Images from: http://www.aaroneberline.com/blog/tag/david/ and http://www.artbible.info/art/large/378.html

 

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1 Samuel 13: The Heat of Self-Knowledge – Part I

Monday, October 17, 2016

Benjamin west: Saul and the Witch of Endor

Benjamin West: Saul and the Witch of Endor

As the political season heats up in the U.S., we consider this important story from one of our oldest scriptures.

This is the portion of the Samuel story in which we watch Saul move away from God to begin his long slide into darkness.  This downward movement happens because he presumes to know best.  Saul takes action on his own without waiting for Samuel, who is designated by God as the judge/leader, to offer sacrifice before battle.  Although his son Jonathan and the rest of Saul’s troops have immediate success, Saul himself is eventually lost.  He becomes paranoid about his fear of David (1 Samuel 18) and forces David to flee the court (1 Samuel 19).  He allows his fears to overtake him as when he orders the priest of Nob to be slaughtered (1 Samuel 22) and continues his frenetic search for David in the wilderness (1 Samuel 23).  In his panic he consults with a seer in Endor (1 Samuel 28); and finally he meets his dreadful end (1 Samuel 31) along with his beloved son Jonathon.  This is a sad ending for a man who had shown such promise but who, in the end, did not trust God.  Today we see the beginning of Saul’s long and terrible journey into the dark.  Unwilling to admit his errors or to seek pardon, Saul gives himself over to the fantastical thinking that he knows better than God . . . that he can do without God.  He sees his troops slithering away before the battle and, thinking that he will keep them from leaving, he steps in to intervene – countering God’s plan.

Today we reflect on Saul’s story and examine our motivations to see if the fire of self-knowledge threatens to consume us. Tomorrow, the fire of battle. Do our conflicts help us to know ourselves better? Or do they send us further into deception and denial? 

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Gerard Seghers: The Patient Job

Gerard Seghers: The Patient Job

Daniel 12:6

How Long?

How long shall it be to the end of these appalling things?

Exodus 10:3: Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me’.”

Exodus 10:7: Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?”

Exodus 16:28: Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my instructions?”

Numbers 14:11: The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn me? And how long will they not believe in me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?”

Joshua asks the men of Israel how long they will delay in moving into the Promised Land. (Joshua 18:3)

The priest Eli asks the barren Hannah how long she continue with her drunken babbling (1 Samuel 1:14) and the Lord asks Samuel how long he will grieve over the loss of Saul as king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1).

In 1 Kings 18:21 Elijah asks the people how long their will vacillate between the Living God Yahweh and the false gods of the Baals.

Job’s companion, Bildad, asks Job how long he will refuse to acknowledge his sin – which he, in fact, did not commit (Job 8:2). He asks how long Job will put off speaking truth (Job 18:2). To this, Job replies: How long will you torment me and crush me with lies? (Job 19:1)

In these Old Testament verses we read the words we ourselves use when we are overwhelmed. We hear the human and divine plea for understanding; and we feel the urgent desire for resolution in all that seems precarious and unjust. Let us gather our moments of plight and petition, and bring them to the one who holds the answer to our prayers of supplication.

Tomorrow . . . a response.

For an insightful reflection on the Book of Job, click on the image above or visit: http://soulation.org/breakfastreading/2011/03/a-different-look-at-the-man-from-uz.html

For more reflections on the words of this prophet, enter the words Daniel or Apocalypse into the blog search bar and explore.

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joySunday, November 9, 2014

1 Samuel 18

Joy and Suspicion

Today we continue to visit with scripture to look for stories about joy that will surprise us in a variety of ways. If you want to explore other stories in which joy astounds us, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our story is from the Book of Samuel.

Too often the high points in our lives are followed by turmoil and darkness brought on by jealousy. My dad always warned us that as we move up the ladder of life to become more proficient in the workplace we may also become targets for office gossip and suspicion. But, he added, we cannot allow this to affect either our work or our relationships. Rather than frighten us, Dad meant to arm us with the knowledge that joy is accompanied by suspicion, and we see truth play out with David today when he returns from slaying the giant Goliath to be greeted with both great joy . . . and deep suspicion. If we spend time with these verses, we see that success may breed its own kind of darkness. It is up to us to decide how we will react. It is in our power to look for joy hidden in the dark recesses of suspicion.

Verses 6-9: It happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments. The women sang as they played, and said, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on.

Steen: David's Triumphant Return

Steen: David’s Triumphant Return

Suspicion, gossip, jealousy, envy. These are the slippery steps that David navigates with God’s help. Later in his story, David succumbs to temptation that ruins the lives of many, but his actions bring us hope when we understand that even God’s anointed will err.

Fidelity, trust, hope, love. These are the footholds we look for in the face of the mountain we climb. We find joy even in the darkest of places when we rely on God’s providence, God’s wisdom and God’s love.

Visit 1 and 2 Samuel if you have time over the next few hours to put today’s Noontime into context.

Enter the words, Saul, David, envy or jealousy into the blog search bar and explore. Discover ways in which God’s quiet joy is always with us . . . even when we lest expect to feel its presence.  

Click on the Steen image above for more information about this story of triumph, suspicion and ultimately . . . joy. 

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/ 

 

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Clay Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

British Museum: Clay Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Jeremiah 46

Routed Heroes

This oracle against Egypt that we read today is one of Jeremiah’s many. The young Hebrew nation sought refuge in Egypt under the protection of Joseph, they prospered and grew in the land of Goshen and were later enslaved. Led from their enslavement by Moses, they migrated to their promised land where they again prospered and grew. They became a formidable force under the leadership of Saul and David but with Solomon the empire begins to crumble. This young king who had shown so much promise bows to the desires of pagan wives and allows his people to turn to pagan gods. Babylon threatens in the north while Israel and Judah become two kingdoms. Ahead of the forces of Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah is swept away and carried off to Egypt; but Babylon follows and Nebuchadnezzar’s forces move swiftly through the Levant to rout the heroes who attempted to stem the force of his advance. Jeremiah had warned his people but they chose to ignore the word of God as delivered by the prophet.

Prepare shield and buckler! March to battle!

The prophet Daniel reminds us that the faithful need not fight, they only need rely on the providence and goodness of God. (Daniel and the Fiery Furnace in Daniel 3)

Harness the horses. Mount, charioteers. Fall in with your helmets; polish your spears, put on your breastplates.

Saint Paul reminds us that the only impenetrable armor is Christ himself. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

What do I see? With broken ranks they fall back; their heroes are routed, they flee headlong without making a stand. Terror on every side!

Jesus tells us that we have nothing to fear when we live in him.

The swift cannot flee, nor the hero escape. There in the north, on the Euphrates’ bank, they stumble and fall. Who is this that surges toward the Nile, like rivers of billowing waters?

Jeremiah warns that there is no route of escape, no avoidance of the inevitable end which corruption and arrogance guarantees.

Pack your baggage for exile, Memphis shall become a desert, an empty ruin. The mercenaries are like fatted calves; they too turn and flee together, stand not their ground.

The unthinkable will take place. All who are powerful will be weak. All who are mighty will fall. Heroes and cowards alike will collapse.

I will make an end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but of you I will not make an end. I will chastise you as you deserve, I will not let you go unpunished.

So compassionate is our God that even those who go against him have an opportunity to change their ways.

But you, my servant Jacob, fear not; be not dismayed, O Israel. Behold, I will deliver you from the far off land for I am with you.

So faithful is our persistent God that those who are lost in the wake of routed heroes will be healed, restored and transformed.

So hopeful is our transformative God that those who fall on the banks of the Nile will be reconciled, rebuilt and made new.

So loving is our merciful God that even those who are swept away with the tide of routed heroes will be raised up, resurrected and brought to eternal life.

For information on the Babylonian Culture and Jeremiah’s prophecy, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblesearchers.com/temples/jeremiah4.shtml 

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Rebellion


Thursday, July 4, 2014

1 Chronicles 10

In the U.S. today we celebrate the founding of our country, a time when our forbearers took action against those who were seen as oppressors. At The Noontimes we return to a favorite reflection as we consider . . . Rebellion.

Mattia Preti: Samuel Anoints David

Mattia Preti: Samuel Anoints David

Thus Saul died because of his rebellion against the Lord . . .

It is difficult to wait for God’s time to unfold and it takes patience to understand our place in God’s timeline. It takes a great deal of trust to rely on God and his economy because there are so many times when we think we have a better solution, a kinder consequence, a more comfortable method for a more sensible solution. In all of this kind of thinking we stray from our true origin, purpose and destination. David and Saul provide us with an opportunity to reflect on who we are and how we interact with God.

David has been anointed by Samuel, the prophet, as the new King of Israel; yet Saul, the present King, still holds the reins of power. The relationship of trust once shared between David and Saul has ruptured and now Saul hunts David down, all the while sinking deeper into paranoia. David might have killed Saul a number of times yet he does not, choosing instead to witness, to watch and to wait. The story of this conflict can be read in the closing chapters of 1 Samuel. What we spend time with today is this: We separate ourselves from God when we anticipate God’s plan and move forward with our own. We divide ourselves into two camps. We split ourselves into two beings . . . and then we make ourselves unhappy and blame circumstances, others and even God himself for our unhappiness.

Rebellion is good when it brings us the strength to take action against abuse or corruption. Rebellion is not good when it draws us into ourselves, and away from common sense and good advice. Rebellion is our ruin when it bolsters pride, inflates our ego and enables narcissistic blindness to our separation from good.

In this Old Testament story, God is a judge standing over all and deciding “thumbs up or thumbs down” on each action. The New Testament expression of God’s love for us, Jesus, moves us beyond this simplistic way of evaluating our behavior. Rather than recommend that we ought not rebel, the new message is: Why are you terrified, O you of little faith? We have in Christ one who rebukes storms, calms seas, heals wounds and shows pity. With Saul, rebellion lured him into the arms of those who bolstered his illness and took advantage of his distress. With David, rebellion moved him away from abuse and toward God.

Rebellion is good when it brings us the courage to speak out against abuse or corruption. Rebellion is not good when it draws us into anger and away from the light. Rebellion is our ruin when it feeds our selfishness. We must decide how to best use rebellion in our lives.

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