Archive for the ‘1 Samuel 15’ Category

David as a Vassal of King Achish of Gath   Leave a comment

Above:  David Returns to Achish, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XXV

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1 Samuel 27:1-28:2

1 Samuel 29:1-11

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Let them be ashamed and altogether dismayed

who seek after my life to destroy it;

let them draw back and be disgraced

who take pleasure in my misfortune.

–Psalm 40:15, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The editing of 1 Samuel 27-29 is interesting.  1 Samuel 28:3-25 (Saul and the Witch of Endor) interrupts the narrative that spans 1 Samuel 27:1-28:2 and 29:1-11.  Based on geography and troop movements, 29:1 precedes 28:4 chronologically.  Also 1 Samuel 28:3-25 properly precedes Chapter 31 by one day.

David, on the run from King Saul, found safety in Gath, under the authority of King Achish.  David had feigned insanity to flee Achish in Chapter 21.  In Chapters 27, 28, and 29, however, David served Achish (sort of) without fighting Israelite forces.  David lied to Achish about the purpose of his raids. David was a successful military leader who killed potential witnesses to his acts of seizing livestock and clothing.  Saul had seized flocks in Chapter 15, much to Samuel’s chagrin.  Yet David did the same, without (strong) condemnation in the text.  David’s motivations were clear:  survival and enrichment.  Achish’s motivation seemed to have been that the enemy of his enemy was his friend.  The Philistine king trusted David.  Achish’s lords, however, distrusted David.  Perhaps they were good judges of character.  They pressured Achish into giving David and his men the ancient equivalents of honorable discharges.  David, feigning offense, went on his way happily.

What are we supposed to make of David killing potential witnesses?  How should we evaluate that behavior morally.  I cannot justify that behavior morally.  And the more I read about David, the less I like him.  I understand that Saul had pushed him into serving Achish.  I also agree that so much killing was unnecessary.

The narrative depicts God as favoring and aiding David.  I do not know what to make of that.  I know that, according to Genesis, God, favored, adided, and worked via the trickster Jacob, too.  I remain unsure what to make of that.

Grace is not what we deserve.  That is the best I can do, and it feels unsatisfactory to me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 22, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JACK LAYTON, CANADIAN ACTIVIST AND FEDERAL LEADER OF THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS HRYHORII KHOMSYSHYN, SYMEON LUKACH, AND IVAN SLEZYUK, UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC BISHOPS AND MARTYRS, 1947, 1964, AND 1973

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN KEMBLE AND JOHN WALL, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS, 1679

THE FEAST OF SAINTS THOMAS PERCY, RICHARD KIRKMAN, AND WILLIAM LACEY, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1572 AND 1582

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David on the Run, Part I   Leave a comment

Above:  Ahimelech Giving the Sword of Goliath to David, by Aert de Gelder

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XX

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1 Samuel 21:1-22:23

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They go to and fro in the evening;

they snarl like dogs and run about the city.

They forage for good,

and if they are not filled, they howl.

For my part, I will sing of your strength;

I will celebrate your love in the morning;

For you have become my stronghold,

a refuge in the day of my trouble.

To you, O my Strength, will I sing;

for you, O God, are my stronghold and my merciful God.

–Psalm 59:16-20, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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David was in open rebellion against King Saul.  Why not?  King Saul had forced the issue by trying to kill David and to have David terminated with extreme prejudice.  There was no indication of David being disloyal to King Saul before the monarch forced fugitive-rebel status upon him.  David, therefore, remained alive the best ways he knew.  The future king, in mortal peril, lied to Ahimelich, great-grandson of Eli, and feigned insanity before Achish, the King of Gath.  According to the text, Achish knew who David, carrying the sword with which he had beheaded Goliath, was.  David’s lie to Ahimelech led to the execution of all but one of the priests at Nob.  Abiathar son of Ahimelech survived, though (1 Samuel 2:33).

The narrative emphasizes the contrast between the characters of Saul and David.  Saul ordered the deaths of innocents–priests, the inhabitants of Nob, and livestock.  When David realized the role he played leading up to those murders, he accepted personal responsibility.  Saul also passed the buck before finally admitting error in 1 Samuel 15.  But was he sincere when he confessed?

You, O reader, may know or know of someone who seldom or never accepts responsibility for his or her actions.  This person may be a neighbor, a boss, a relative, a politician, et cetera.  Such people blame others for their errors, frequently in the manner of projecting their failings onto others.

Those of us who have read the story of David know he was deeply flawed.  We may not like him.  That is fine.  But, if we are honest, we must admit that, according to the story, David admitted errors more than once.  David admitted errors more than once.  I count such honesty as a virtue.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRUNO ZEMBOL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1942

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CAMERIUS, CISELLUS, AND LUXORIUS OF SARDINIA, MARTYRS, 303

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF EDESSA, CIRCA 304

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN OF ANTIOCH; MARTYR, CIRCA 353; AND SAINTS BONOSUS AND MAXIMIANUS THE SOLDIER, MARTYRS, 362

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David Forced to Flee from King David   Leave a comment

Above:  Saul Attacking David, by Guercino

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XVIII

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1 Samuel 19:1-24

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Not because of any guilt of mine

they run and prepare themselves for battle.

Rouse yourself, come to my side, and see;

for you, LORD God of hosts, are Israel’s God.

–Psalm 59:4-5, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Samuel never saw David again to the day of his death.

–1 Samuel 15:35a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Not unless one counts 1 Samuel 19:22-24, from a different source.  This is just one example of a contradiction that resulted from the cutting and pasting of sources into a composite narrative.

Back in 1 Samuel 10:9-12, after his anointing as the King of Israel, the Spirit of God gripped Saul.  He, amid a band of prophets, spoke in ecstasy with them.

Is Saul too among the prophets?

–1 Samuel 10:11, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Yes.

Is Saul too among the prophets?

–1 Samuel 19:24, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

No.  Saul had become an oath-breaking monarch who openly attempted murder and will willing to kill his son-in-law in bed.  Saul had lost the support of Michal (his daughter and David’s wife) and Jonathan (his son and David’s friend and son-in-law).  Saul had lost his dignity and honor.  Saul had lost God’s blessing.  David, in the company of Samuel, had gained it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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Posted August 15, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 1 Samuel 10, 1 Samuel 15, 1 Samuel 19, Psalm 59

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David in the Court of King Saul   Leave a comment

Above: Saul and David, by Rembrandt Van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XV

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1 Samuel 16:14-23

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My hands made a harp;

my fingers fashioned a lyre.

–Psalm 151:2, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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This story flows directly from 16:1-13.  Remember this detail, O reader, when we get to Chapter 17 (the familiar story of David Goliath), in which Saul supposedly met David for the first time.  The explanation for such inconsistencies in 1 Samuel is the editing of different sources into a composite narrative.  I have no idea what really happened, which version is accurate or closer to objective reality when these inconsistencies (plain when comparing texts) present themselves.  I focus, however, on spiritual lessons I can derive from the story.

Another matter I notice on this re-reading of 1 Samuel is the question of the passage of time.  In-universe, how long had Saul been the King of Israel by the time of 1 Samuel 16:14-23?  And how long had he reigned whenever (depending on the version of the rejection by God in which one chooses to place more trust–Chapter 13 or Chapter 15) God rejected him?  And how long did Saul reign after that?  Saul reigned for about two decades, study Bibles and other reference works tell me.  The Jewish Study Bible defines the reign of Saul as 1025-1005 B.C.E.  The New Interpreter’s Study Bible prefers 1020-c. 1000 B.C.E.

1 Samuel 16:14-23 flows directly from 16:1-13, which flows directly from the end of Chapter 15.  1 Samuel 16:14-23, therefore, comes from the same source as the second rejection story, the one in Chapter 15.  The Spirit of God gripped David in 16:13.  The Spirit departed from Saul in 16:14.  Saul seemed never to be comfortable as the King of Israel.  He became unhinged after 16:14.  Saul, aware of who David and Jesse were, made David a royal arms-bearer.  David’s main reason for being in the court was to make Saul feel better with music.  Saul, unaware of Samuel’s secret anointing of David, welcomed the former shepherd’s presence.

I wonder how we, using modern psychiatric and psychological categories, would define King Saul’s mental state after 16:14.  We have categories of which ancients knew nothing, after all.  The description in the text depends upon the traditional, spirit-based belief.  (Spirits are real, I affirm, but so are organic, genetic, and psychological causes.)  Keep in mind, O reader, that, according to the Bible, demonic possession causes epilepsy and mental illnesses.  Also consider that future generations may have different categories than we do.  I believe that Saul suffered from excessive stress, at least.  I also accept that he may have had some form of mental illness.  I suppose that, if Saul were alive today, a doctor would prescribe medication and a long vacation.  I also guess that Saul, if alive today, would undergo therapy.  These are only guesses.  I, as a student of history, know that reading the minds of dead people is difficult and frequently impossible.

Speculation about modern labels and the applicability to the mental state of the first King of Israel in interesting.  It is not, however, the territory into which the author of 1 Samuel 16:14-23 went.  No, the author’s point was that God had rejected Saul (who was suffering the consequences) and chosen David instead.  David was ascendant.  Saul was on the decline.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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Posted August 15, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 1 Samuel 13, 1 Samuel 15, 1 Samuel 16, 1 Samuel 17, Psalm 151

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The Anointing of David   2 comments

Above: Samuel Anointing David

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XIV

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1 Samuel 16:1-13

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I was small among my brothers,

and the youngest in my father’s house;

I tended my father’s sheep.

My brothers were handsome and tall,

but the Lord was not pleased with them.

–Psalm 151:1, 5, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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This story flows directly from 1 Samuel 15:1-35, the second version of God’s rejection of Saul in the composite narrative.

  1. 1 Samuel 16:1-13 contains various elements.  I will write about some of them.
  2. Samuel was on a subversive mission from God.  He was going out to anoint the next King of Israel in secret.  Israel already had a monarch.
  3. The arrival of a prophet created fear in some people.
  4. Saul was a head taller than most other Israelites (1 Samuel 9:2).  He was also handsome.  Good looks counted as a qualification for being a monarch.  David was also handsome (1 Samuel 16:12).  He was also shorter than Saul.
  5. God told Samuel to pay no attention to the conventional standards of appearance and height.
  6. David, the youngest of eight sons of Jesse, was God’s choice.  Seven was the number of completion; eight was one better.  Also, the Biblical motif of the youngest or a younger son being the chosen one recurred.
  7. As after the anointing of Saul (1 Samuel 10:9-13), the Spirit of God gripped the newly anointed (1 Samuel 16:13).
  8. David was a shepherd.  Moses had been a shepherd, too (Exodus 3:1).  Kings in the ancient Near East were often shepherds, figuratively.  Elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, texts referred to Israelite monarchs as shepherds.

What standards do we look for in rulers?  I, as a student of United States history, think immediately of two very different Presidents of the United States who perpetually occupy the lower rungs of historians’ rankings of Presidents.  I think of Franklin Pierce (in office 1853-1857), who signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) into law, made Kansas “Bleeding Kansas,” and hastened the coming of the Civil War.  I also know that, according to tradition, he may have been the most handsome President.  I also think of the distinguished-looking Warren G. Harding (in office 1921-1923), the President from central casting.  I know, however, that he pursued nativistic policies and, even immediately after a briefing on an issue, admitted that he did not understand that issue.  Furthermore, I remember reading a candid admission Harding made in private:

I am not fit for this office and should never have been here.

Leadership involves matters more substantial than stature and good looks.  These matters are readily evident.  Some are intangible.  Being a leader also requires having followers.  One who has no followers merely takes a walk, so to speak.

Ezekiel 34 refers to Israelite kings as shepherds–bad ones.  All people have the right to live under good rulers–attentive shepherds who build up the common good.  The price of having bad shepherds is high, often measured in death tolls and economic carnage, and in other forms of injustice.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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The War Against the Philistines Continues   Leave a comment

Above: King Saul

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XIII

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1 Samuel 13:15b-14:52

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Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered;

let those who hate him flee before him.

–Psalm 68:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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This story presents Saul negatively.

  1. Jonathan was a superior strategist.
  2. Saul was impulsive.  Jonathan understood the element of surprise.
  3. Jonathan, unlike his father, understood that an army marches on its stomach, to steal a line from Napoleon Bonaparte.
  4. Saul, not considering that he had not acted to inform Jonathan of the ban on eating honey, was willing to execute his son for unknowingly violating the order.
  5. Ironically, the crown prince (who had started the war in 13:3) was better at fulfilling one reason many people requested a king (1 Samuel 8) than his father was.

The story presents King Saul as a man who did not grow into his job.  The past is replete with people who have had power thrust upon them.  Historical records indicate that some of these individuals grew into their offices and performed their duties well.  Historical records also indicate that many others did not rise to the occasion and the office.

King Saul comes across as one in over his head.  He comes across as one who would have been happy remaining a farmer who occasionally chased runaway donkeys.

Jonathan comes across as one who knew Saul better than Saul.  His criticism of his father (14:29) follows one version of God’s rejection of Saul (13:8-15a).  Father-son tensions are on display in this story.  The story, in which the army overrules the monarch (14:44-45), reveals that Jonathan, in one way, had an advantage over his father.

But wait, was not Saul the chosen of God (Chapter 10) until he was not (13:8-15a and 15:1-35)?  The editing of different sources into a composite narrative complicated interpretation.  Furthemore, the interpretive lens of this material was pre-Davidic Dynastic.  Nevertheless, Saul may have been subpar.  (I have no good reason to reject that conclusion.)

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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God Rejects Saul: Two Versions   Leave a comment

Above: Saul Rejected as King

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XII

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1 Samuel 13:1-15a

1 Samuel 15:1-35

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[Samuel said,] “After that, you are to go down to Gilgal ahead of me, and I will come down to you to present burnt offerings and offer sacrifices of well-being.  Wait seven days until I come to you and instruct you what you are to do next.

–1 Samuel 10:8, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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The editing of different sources into a composite narrative created doublets–two versions of the same story–throughout parts of the Old Testament.  Therefore, in the composite narrative, God rejected Saul in Chapters 13 and 15–in chapter 15 as if the account from Chapter 13 had not occurred.

I will write about each version in turn.

1 Samuel 13:1-15a

Samuel the prophet was under the impression that Saul, as the King of Israel, was his subordinate.  Saul initially tried to obey the prophet’s instructions from 10:8, but Samuel was late.  The monarch cited military necessity to act in Samuel’s stead.  Samuel was not happy.

Saul was in this difficult, wartime situation because his son, Jonathan, had killed the Philistine prefect in Geba.  The crown prince apparently thought that God would grant great victory.  Saul, however, feared the superior Philistine forces.  The king may have been correct to fear them.  Anyway, he received credit for Jonathan’s deed and proceeded to lead the military campaign.

What else was Saul supposed to do at Gilgal?  He faced a superior force that had more men and better technology.  His army was about to desert.  So, he made the sacrifice.  Samuel deemed the monarch acting in the stead of the prophet improper.  Yet the army not only continued to exist but grew.

1 Samuel 13:8-15a offers the improper sacrifice version of God’s rejection of Saul.  The implication in the text is that Saul, perhaps still a reluctant monarch, lacked faith in God.

1 Samuel 15:1-35

The Amalekites were archenemies of the Jews.  They had attacked the Hebrews in Exodus 17:8-16 and Deuteronomy 25:17-18.   Saul, according to 1 Samuel 15, under a divine directive to

kill alike men and women, infants and sucklings, oxen and sheep, camels and asses,

to spare nobody, led an assault against the Amalekites.  The Israelite army did not, however, follow orders.  They spared the life of the Amalekite king (Agag), much livestock, and

all else that was of value.

Saul, complicit in this disobedience, blamed his soldiers.  The monarch refused to accept personal responsibility for his decision.  The spoils of war were supposed to be God alone.

I cannot reconcile that attitude with Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

 

Neither can I reconcile the two stories from different sources either.

There is a common theme, though.  Disobedience to God leads to dire consequences.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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Perplexing Readings   1 comment

Above:  The Parable of the Unjust Steward, by Jan Luyken

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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1 Samuel 15:1-23 or Jeremiah 31:27-34

Psalm 109:1-5, 21-27, 30-31

Romans 11:1-21

Luke 16:1-15

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We have some perplexing readings this Sunday.  Seldom does a lectionary load a Sunday with difficult lessons.

  1. The attack on the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 15 was to avenge an Amalekite attack on Israelites centuries prior, in Exodus 17:8-16.
  2. According to Deuteronomy 20:16-18 and 25:17-19, King Saul and his forces, engaged in a holy war (Is there such a thing?), should have killed all enemies, taken no prisoners, and taken no booty.  They took booty and spared the life of King Agag, though.  This, according to 1 Samuel 15, led to God’s final rejection of Saul, who had blamed others for his violation of the law.  (Are we not glad that leaders everywhere no longer deflect blame for their errors?  That is a sarcastic question, of course.)
  3. The tone in Psalm 109 is relentlessly unforgiving.
  4. We read in Romans 11:1-21 that Gentile believers are, by the mercy of God, a branch grafted onto the Jewish tree.  Yet the Gentile branch is not exempt from the judgment of God.  The Gentile branch also has a long and shameful record of anti-Semitism.
  5. The Parable of the Unjust Steward/Corrupt Manager is a challenging text.  The titular character is not a role model, after all.  Yet he is intelligent and able to secure his future by committing favors he can call in when he needs to do so.  One point is that we should be astute, but not corrupt.  Naïveté is not a spiritual virtue.
  6. Money is a tool.  It should never be an idol, although it frequently is.  Greed is one of the more common sins.

I admit my lack of comfort with 1 Samuel 15 and its background.  As Amy-Jill Levine says, people did things differently back then.

I also know well the desire for divine vindication, as well as the unwillingness to forgive.  And, when I want to forgive, I do not always know how to do so.  This reminds me of the predicament of St. Paul the Apostle in Romans 7:19-20.

Each of us is susceptible to many forms of idolatry.  Something or someone becomes an idol when one treats something of someone as an idol.  Function defines an idol.

And what about that parable?  In the context of the Gospel of Luke, one needs also to consider teachings about wealth–blessed are the poor, woe to the rich, et cetera.  The theme of reversal of fortune is germane.  Also, the order not to exalt oneself, but to be kind to those who cannot repay one (Luke 14:7-14) constitutes a counterpoint to the dishonest/corrupt/astute manager/steward.  Remember, also, that if the fictional manager/steward had been honest, he would have kept his job longer, and we would not have that parable to ponder as we scratch our heads.

Obeying the Golden Rule, being as innocent as doves, and being as wise as serpents seems like a good policy.  May we heed the law of God written on our hearts, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 27, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WASHINGTON DOANE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF NEW JERSEY; AND HIS SON, WILLIAM CROSWELL DOANE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ALBANY; HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANTONY AND THEODOSIUS OF KIEV, FOUNDERS OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MONASTICISM; SAINT BARLAAM OF KIEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ABBOT; AND SAINT STEPHEN OF KIEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF CHRISTINA ROSSETTI, POET AND RELIGIOUS WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS REMACLUS OF MAASTRICHT, THEODORE OF MAASTRICHT, LAMBERT OF MAASTRICHT, HUBERT OF MAASTRICT AND LIEGE, AND FLORIBERT OF LIEGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT LANDRADA OF MUNSTERBILSEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; AND SAINTS OTGER OF UTRECHT, PLECHELM OF GUELDERLAND, AND WIRO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZITA OF TUSCANY, WORKER OF CHARITY

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2020/04/27/devotion-for-proper-23-year-c-humes/

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The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God   1 comment

Above:  Christ Healing an Infirm Woman, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God

SEPTEMBER 26, 2021

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 or Jeremiah 23:23-29

Psalm 107:1-3, 170-32

Romans 9:1-6, 16

Luke 13:10-17

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The twin themes of divine judgment and mercy dominate these five readings, O reader.

I know, O reader, that, if you have paid attention to and read this weblog for a while, you can probably guess what I will write next.  The Bible is repetitive.  Lectionaries keep taking me into repetitive territory.  The Bible repeats itself because people missed a given message the first many times.

You cannot conceive, nor can I, of the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.

–Graham Greene, Brighton Rock (1938)

The mercy of God present in Jesus, healing on the Sabbath, appalled one synagogue official in Luke 13:10-17.  This mercy should have filled that man with joy on behalf of the formerly afflicted woman.  No, he stood of conventional piety, according to which Christ’s actions were inappropriate–even sinful–on the Sabbath.  Jesus did not provide first aid; that would have been fine, according to conventional piety.  Neither did he provide emergency relief that saved her life; that also would have been fine, according to conventional piety.  Had he healed her on any of the other six days of the week, that would have been fine, according to conventional piety.  So much for that version of conventional piety!

The easy way out is to stand on one’s perceived moral superiority to that synagogue official.  The easy way out is to denounce him and stop there.  However, I know myself well enough to affirm that I have my own version of conventional piety–the rules of the spiritual road, as I understand them, so to speak.  If Jesus were to stand in front of me and transgress any of those rules, I would probably take offense at him.  That would be my problem and sin, not his.

You, O reader, probably resemble that remark.  Who among us is a spiritual superhero, greater than mere mortals?

May God forgive all of us our spiritual blindness and fixations that prevent us from responding as we should.  And may we follow divine leading in repenting of those sins.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR, 68

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2020/04/25/devotion-for-proper-21-year-c-humes/

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God Concepts and Violence   1 comment

Saul Consulting the Spirit of Samuel

Above:   Saul Consults the Spirit of Samuel

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you,

without you nothing is strong, nothing is holy.

Embrace us with your mercy, that with you as our ruler and guide,

we may live through what is temporary without losing what is eternal,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 53

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 28:3-19 (Thursday)

2 Samuel 21:1-14 (Friday)

Psalm 98 (Both Days)

Romans 1:18-25 (Thursday)

2 Thessalonians 1:3-12 (Friday)

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In righteousness shall he judge the world

and the peoples with equity.

–Psalm 98:10, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Judgment and mercy exist in balance (as a whole) in the Bible, but God seems bloodthirsty in 1 Samuel 15 and 28 and in 2 Samuel 21.

The divine rejection of Saul, first King of Israel, was due either to an improper sacrifice (1 Samuel 13:8-14) or his failure to kill all Amelikites (1 Samuel 15:2f), depending upon the source one prefers when reading 1-2 Samuel (originally one composite book copied and pasted from various documents and spread across two scrolls).  1 Samuel 28 favors the second story.  In 2 Samuel 21, as we read, David, as monarch, ended a three-year-long drought by appeasing God.  All the king had to do was hand seven members of the House of Saul over to Gibeonites, who “dismembered them before the LORD” on a mountain.

The readings from the New Testament are not peace and love either, but at least they are not bloody.  Their emphasis is on punishment in the afterlife.  In the full context of scripture the sense is that there will be justice–not revenge–in the afterlife.  Justice, for many, also includes mercy.  Furthermore, may we not ignore or forget the image of the Holy Spirit as our defense attorney in John 14:16.

I know an Episcopal priest who, when he encounters someone who professes not to believe in God, asks that person to describe the God in whom he or she does not believe.  Invariably the atheist describes a deity in whom the priest does not believe either.  I do not believe in the God of 1 Samuel 15 and 28 and 2 Samuel 21 in so far as I do not understand God in that way and trust in such a violent deity.  No, I believe–trust–in God as revealed in Jesus of Nazareth, who would not have ordered any genocide or handed anyone over for death and dismemberment.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 6, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FRANKLIN CLARK FRY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA AND THE LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CLAUDE OF BESANCON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF HENRY JAMES BUCKOLL, AUTHOR AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM KETHE, PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/devotion-for-thursday-and-friday-before-proper-28-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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