Archive for the ‘1 Samuel 19’ Category

Divine Judgment Against Philistia   1 comment

Above:  Icon of Jeremiah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING JEREMIAH, PART XXVII

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Jeremiah 47:1-7

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The Philistines were descendants of the Sea Peoples.

Interpretations of the Sea Peoples have changed in recent decades.  The older version of them was that, starting in the fourteenth century B.C.E., the Sea Peoples moved from Greece to Asia Minor then to the eastern Mediterranean region.  They destroyed the Hittite Empire (in Asia Minor).  The Sea Peoples attacked Egypt during the twelfth century B.C.E., but the Egyptian forces defeated them.  Afterward, the Sea Peoples settled on the coast of Canaan, assimilated with the local population, and became the Philistines.

The Sea Peoples’ defeat at Egyptian hands is a matter of the historical record.

However, the former historical consensus regarding the Sea Peoples may have been wrong.  The Bronze Age Collapse (circa 1177 B.C.E.) affected the Mediterranean region.  The powers were interdependent.  Then a combination of climate change and natural disasters, followed by social and economic collapse, may have driven a diverse group of refugees from one land to another, then to another.  Some of the ancient empires may have collapsed from within, not due to the Sea Peoples.  Nevertheless, the Sea Peoples may still have proven disruptive.  Certainly, they were not welcome.

The Philistines were one of the oldest enemies of the Hebrews.  The Philistines oppressed the tribes of Israel for an undefined period of time (Judges 3:31) and again for about 40 years (Judges 13-16).  Hostilities between the Philistines and the Israelites continued into the twilight of the age of the judges and into the time of the Israelite monarchy (1 Samuel 4-31; 2 Samuel 1-5, 8).  In fact, the Philistine military threat was the main justification for creating the Israelite monarchy.

I have already read prophetic oracles against Philistia during this project of reading the Hebrew prophetic books, roughly in historical order.  I have read the oracles in Amos 1:6-8 and Isaiah 14:28-32.

The oracle in Ezekiel 25:15-17 awaits my attention, in due time.

Jeremiah 47:1 establishes a temporal setting for the oracle against Philistia:

before Pharaoh attacked Gaza.

The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

Pharaoh Neco II (r. 610-595 B.C.E.) attacked Gaza in 609 B.C.E.

The Septuagint copy of the Book of Jeremiah lacks 47:1.  The rest of the germane text of Chapter 47 refers to the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian conquest of Philistia circa 604 B.C.E., followed by mass deportations.  The juxtaposition of these facts indicates editing subsequent to the time of Jeremiah the prophet.

Jeremiah 47 depicts God as destroying Philistia.  The prophet pleads:

Ah! Sword of the LORD!

When will you find rest?

Return to your scabbard;

stop, be still!

–Verse 6, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

The answer in verse 7 is that the sword of the LORD cannot rest until God commands it to do so.

Walter Brueggemann writes:

Yahweh is not dominated by any of our conventionalities, but acts in sheer freedom, owing no one anything.  Listeners to this poem are invited to face this undomesticated God who may violate our sensitivities, this God who maybe the only hope for the Philistines as for Israel.

A Commentary on Jeremiah:  Exile and Homecoming (1998), 441-442

God refuses to fit into human categories and metaphorical theological boxes.  God does not issue trigger warnings.  God remains undomesticated, despite human discomfort.  So be it.  If we object, we have the problem; God does not.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE; AND SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND THE “SWEET-VOICED NIGHTINGALE OF THE CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF DAVID LOW DODGE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN BUSINESSMAN AND PACIFIST

THE FEAST OF FRANCIS J. UPLEGGER, GERMAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND MISSIONARY; “OLD MAN MISSIONARY”

THE FEAST OF FRANK LAUBACH, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF MARK HOPKINS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, EDUCATOR, AND PHYSICIAN

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Possession, Physical Illness, Mental Illness, and Exorcism   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ Exorcising Demons

Image in the Public Domain

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The Roman Catholic Church has the proper attitude toward demonic possession.  That attitude is that demonic possession is real, but that not everything that looks like demonic possession is that.  This is why mental and psychological examinations precede exorcisms, and not every request for an exorcism results in one.  Sometimes, the problem is a matter for doctors and/or therapists, not exorcists and their assistants.  Someone may actually have a mental illness, for example.  

I have heard hints and stories of possessions.  I have heard them from people I know to be credible, lucid, grounded in reality, and not given to flights of fantastical thinking.  I am content to take their word for it when they have described what they witnessed.

I used to be in a relationship with a woman who suffered from mental illness.  I knew from my culture and education that her problems were treatable via medications.  Unfortunately, she did not always take her pills.  At the end, her figurative demons overpowered her, and she died violently.  Having been so close for a about decade to one afflicted with mental illness, I understand how someone whose education and culture do not contain the category of mental illness may misidentify it as demonic possession.

Other conditions, such as epilepsy, have allegedly been symptoms of demonic possession, in the Bible, folk belief, and historical documents.

A partial list of Biblical citations that include references to exorcism or possession follows:

  1. 1 Samuel 16:14-16; 18:10; 19:9;
  2. Tobit 6:7, 16-17; 8:3;
  3. Matthew 8:16; 10:1; 12:28
  4. Mark 1:25; 5:8; 6:7; 9:25, 38; 16:17;
  5. Acts 16:18; 19:13-14.

Sometimes I read one of these passages or another one that belongs on this list and quickly arrive at a non-demonic or non-ghostly explanation for the problem.  Someone may have been under too much stress, for example.  (In some cultures, ghostly possession is the understanding of what my culture calls too much stress.)   Or perhaps I just read a description of an epileptic seizure.  Maybe I read a description of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or multiple personalities disorder.  In Biblical times, of course, people ascribed these afflictions to possession, so the texts they wrote did, too.  

When I read such a text, I seek to understand what was really going on in that text.  I apply the cultural, medical, and psychiatric categories I have learned.  Doing so does not always yield a clear answer to my question, though.  I affirm that that the demonic exists.  I reject the label “supernatural” for it, for I reject that label, period.  That which we humans usually call “supernatural” is merely natural, but not in the same way as ponds, rocks, and kittens.  That which we mere mortals often label supernatural is part of God’s created order.  It is, therefore, natural.  That which is angelic or demonic is natural.  And I do not always know, when reading certain Biblical texts, what kind of natural phenomenon of which I read.  My categories are not those of the ancient authors of canonical books.  

However, sorting out what caused the predicament in a given Biblical story may not necessarily be the main point anyway.  If I read a story of Jesus exorcising/healing (whatever) someone, the main point may be that Christ restored him or her to health, wholeness, and his or her family and community.  Or the main point may be that the Kingdom of God was present in the activities of Jesus.  

So be it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF CHARLES FREDERICK MACKENZIE, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF NYASALAND, AND MARTYR, 1862

THE FEAST OF ANTHONY BÉNÉZET, FRENCH-AMERICAN QUAKER ABOLITIONIST

THE FEAST OF LANZA DEL VASTO, FOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE ARK

THE FEAST OF MENNO SIMONS, MENNONITE LEADER

THE FEAST OF MARY EVELYN “MEV” PULEO, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PHOTOJOURNALIST AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

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King David and Mephibosheth   1 comment

Above:  Mephibosheth Kneels Before King 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 XXXVI

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2 Samuel 21:1-14

2 Samuel 9:1-13

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David asked, “Is there anyone belonging to Saul’s family left, to whom I might show faithful love for Jonathan’s sake?”

–2 Samuel 9:1, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Consistent chronology is not the organizing principle in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles.  Neither is it the organizing principle in this blogging project.  Thematic considerations override chronology sometimes.

Remnants of the House of Saul remained alive and constituted potential political threats to King David.  Mephibosheth, born Meribbaal, was a son of Jonathan.  (Recall, O reader, that “bosheth” means “shame.”)  David and Jonathan had made a pact (1 Samuel 18:3 and 23:18).  David honored that pact by keeping Mephibosheth alive, in the royal court, and at a place of honor, the king’s dining table.  Also, David could always watch Mephibosheth.

Mentions of Mephibosheth also occur in 2 Samuel 16 and 19.

Mephibosheth was not all that was left of the House of Saul.  There was Michal, of course.  And Saul had at least seven surviving sons.  Seven sons of Saul, despite being innocent of any offense other than being sons of Saul, died.  They died, Chapter 21 tells us, to satisfy Saul’s blood guilt and to end a three-year-long drought.  In an incident recorded nowhere else in the Bible, Saul had attempted the genocide of the Gibeonites.  Seven sons of Saul died horribly–via impaling–for their father’s sin.

I, citing Ezekiel 18, reject holding children accountable for the sins of their parents.

These two passages portray King David as a complicated figure.  We read of a man–a monarch–who kept faith/kindness/faithful love (hesed) with Jonathan’s son and simultaneously reined him in.  Mixed motives are old news; human nature is a constant factor.  One may also reasonable argue that David should have kept hesed with Michal and those seven unfortunate sons of Saul.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND THE MARGINALIZED

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC, EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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This is post #2300 of BLOGA THEOLOGICA.

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David Spares King Saul’s Life: Two Versions   Leave a comment

Above:  Saul and David in the Cave of En-Gedi, by Willem de Poorter

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 XXII

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1 Samuel 23:15-24:22

1 Samuel 26:1-25

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If the LORD had not come to my help,

I should have dwelt in the land of silence.

–Psalm 94:17, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The editing of different sources into a composite narrative created a unified story with chronological inconsistencies.  I have written of some of these contradictions in other posts in this series.  That cutting and pasting (to use an anachronism) also gave us doublets–two versions of the same story.  Careful reading of much of the Hebrew Bible has identified doublets, starting in Genesis.

The doublet on which I focus in this post pertains to David saving King Saul’s life, not taking it, while the monarch was trying to kill David.  The doublets wrap around 1 Samuel 25 in the composite narrative.

In 1 Samuel 23:15-24:22, King Saul and his forces were pursuing David and his forces.  Saul was eager to kill David.  The inhabitants of Ziph were ready to facilitate David’s death, as those of Keilah had been earlier in Chapter 23.  David spared Saul’s life and issued an order that nobody kill the monarch.  In this familiar story, David cut off a piece of Saul’s cloak, made his presence known, and spoke to Saul.  The king acknowledged that David would succeed him.

The editing of 1 Samuel 23, 24, and 26 is odd.  It seems that 26:1-25, with its reference to the Ziphites, originally flowed from the end of Chapter 23.

In 1 Samuel 26:1-25, David spared Saul’s life and forbade violence against the monarch.  However, David claimed Saul’s spear, the kingdom of his kingship.  (See 1 Samuel 13:22; 18:10; 19:9; 20:33; and 22:6.  Also see 2 Samuel 1:6.)  David also took the water jar at Saul’s head.  Saul and David also spoke, and the king admitted that David would win.

In both versions, Saul admitted to being in the wrong.  Yet he persisted in the wrong.  Saul did not repent.

I know what it is to be a wronged person.  I know the names of those who have wronged me, actively or passively.  I know their characters, objectively.  I also affirm that they are responsible before God for their characters and deeds, just as I am responsible before God for my character and deeds.  What kind of person am I?  The answer to that question is more important than the issue of what kind of people others are.  One cannot prevail against perfidy by falling into it.

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 and Jonathan   Leave a comment

Above:  David and Jonathan

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 XIX

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1 Samuel 20:1-42

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Hear my voice, O God, when I complain;

protect my life from the fear of the enemy.

–Psalm 64:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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1 Samuel 20 does not flow from 1 Samuel 19, except for an addition in the first verse.  If one has been paying close attention to the composite narrative, one may recall 1 Samuel 19.  One may remember that King Saul, aware of David’s absence from the royal court, had started to pursue the former shepherd.  One may also recall that King Saul had instructed Jonathan to kill David and that Jonathan had spoken up for David.  I mention all this because, at the beginning of 1 Samuel 20, we read of Jonathan being unaware of the monarch’s plans and efforts to kill David.  If I were a Biblical literalist, this would bother me, and I would seek to reconcile the different sources and resolve the contradictions.  I prefer, however, to acknowledge the factual inconsistencies and write about the friendship of David and Jonathan.

Jonathan, heir to the throne, sided with David, whom he acknowledged as a future king.  Jonathan did this to the disadvantage of this position.  He was at peace with his decision.  King Saul, who was not at peace with Jonathan’s decision, cursed out the crown prince (verse 30).  (The Living Bible came closest to getting the English translation correct.  It had King Saul call Jonathan, “You son of a bitch!”)  King Saul even threw a spear at Jonathan, as the monarch had done to David (19:8-10).

Friendship is a form of love.  Focusing not on selfish gain but on what is best for a friend constitutes expressing this form of love.  Doing the right thing may be dangerous and/or costly.  It remains the only morally feasible option, though.

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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Posted August 21, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 1 Samuel 19, 1 Samuel 20, Psalm 64

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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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King David’s Jealousy of David   Leave a comment

Above:  Princess Michelle Benjamin with David Shepherd, in Kings (2009)

A Screen Capture

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

PART XVII

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1 Samuel 18:6-30

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Rescue me from my enemies, O God;

protect me from those who rise up against me.

Rescue me from evildoers

and save me from those who thirst for my blood.

See how they lie in wait for my life,

how the mighty gather together against me;

not for any offense or fault of mine, O LORD.

–Psalm 59:1-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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David had become a political threat to King Saul.  Usually, a monarch received credit for his warriors’ successes.  Yet David, not Saul, received credit for David’s successes.  The author understood divine favor to account for David’s successes.  Saul, already unhinged, became jealous.  He tried to arrange David’s death while luring the great warrior into false sense of comfort.  Saul’s plan to kill David by placing him at the head of the troops (verse 13) was like David’s plan (in 2 Samuel 11) to kill Uriah the Hittite.  Saul established a seemingly high bride price for his daughter Michal.  David paid double.

Michal loved David (verses 20 and 28).  In the Hebrew Bible, she was the only woman whom the text described as loving her man.

David, by marrying Michal, received the right of succession, behind Saul’s sons.  Again the promise passed through the younger child–in this case, Michal.

Saul’s strategy in this chapter reminds me of Don Vito Corleone’s advice in The Godfather (1972):

Keep you friends close and your enemies closer.

Even that plan failed, for, as the author wanted the audience to know, God favored David.  Saul, however, was not finished trying to kill David.  The unhinged monarch continued to attempt to terminate David with extreme prejudice in 1 Samuel 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 26,

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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1 Samuel and Acts, Part IX: If God is For Us…..   1 comment

malta_ast_2001210_lrg

Above:  Malta, July 29, 2001

Image Source = Jet Propulsion Laboratory

(http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=4933)

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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 everlasting 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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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 18:10-30 (August 4)

1 Samuel 19:1-24 (August 5)

1 Samuel 20:1-23 (August 6)

Psalm 110 (Morning–August 4)

Psalm 62 (Morning–August 5)

Psalm 13 (Morning–August 6)

Psalms 66 and 23 (Evening–August 4)

Psalms 73 and 8 (Evening–August 5)

Psalms 36 and 5 (Evening–August 6)

Acts 27:27-44 (August 4)

Acts 28:1-15 (August 5)

Acts 28:16-31 (August 6)

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Some Related Posts:

1 Samuel 19-20:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/week-of-2-epiphany-thursday-year-2/

Acts 27-28:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/forty-ninth-day-of-easter/

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The readings from 1 Samuel and the Acts of the Apostles emphasize the positive.  Yes, Saul tries to kill David, but the younger man escapes.  David falls in love; surely that is positive.  And Paul and his fellow prisoners survive a shipwreck.  The story of Luke-Acts ends  before Paul’s beheading; he is in Rome, teaching.

The unifying element in each narrative is that God was with the heroic figure.  Yet bad things do happen to faithful people.  Accounts of Christian martyrs confirm this fact.  And August 6 is the Feast of the Transfiguration.  After the Transfiguration our Lord and Savior traveled to Jerusalem for the fateful, final Passover week of his earthly life.  But he emerged victorious on the other side, did he not?

I will not resolve the problem of why bad things happen to good people in this blog post.  But I can make one definitive statement:  It is better to suffer while on God’s side than to do so while not on God’s side.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2012 COMMON ERA

PROPER 23:  THE TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/devotion-for-august-4-5-and-6-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Friendship II: Jonathan, A Good Friend   1 comment

Above:  Saul Throws the Spear at David, by George Tinworth

Jonathan, a Good Friend

JANUARY 19, 2012

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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1 Samuel 18:6-9; 19:1-7 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

As they were coming home, when David returned from slaying the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with timbrels, with songs of joy, and with instruments of music.  And the women sang to one another as they made merry,

Saul has slain his thousands,

and David his ten thousands.

And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him; he said,

They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?

And Saul eyed David from that day on.

…(Saul tried to kill David, who lives anyway and marries Michal, daughter of Saul.)…

And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David.  But Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted much in David.  And Jonathan told David,

Saul my father seeks to kill you; therefore take heed to yourself in the morning, stay in a secret place and hide yourself; and I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you; an if I learn anything I will tell you.

And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father, and said to him,

Let not the king sin against his servant David; because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have been of good service to you; for he took his life in his hand and he slew the Philistine, and the LORD wrought a great victory for all Israel.  You saw it, and rejoiced; why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?

And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan; Saul swore,

As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death.

And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan showed him all these things.  And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as before.

Psalm 56 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Have mercy on me, O God,

for my enemies are hounding me;

all day long they assault and oppress me.

2  They hound me all the day long;

truly there are many who fight against me, O Most High.

3  When I am afraid,

I will put my trust in you.

4  In God, whose word I praise,

in God I trust and will not be afraid,

for what can flesh do to me?

5  All day long they damage my cause;

their only thought is to do me evil.

6  They band together; they lie in wait;

they spy upon my footsteps;

because they seek my life.

7  Shall they escape despite their wickedness?

O God, in your anger, cast down the peoples.

8  You have noted my lamentation;

put my tears into your bottle;

are they not recorded in your book?

9  Whenever I call upon you, my enemies will be put to flight;

this I know, for God is on my side.

10  In God, the LORD, whose word I praise,

in God I trust and will not be afraid,

for what can mortals do to me?

11  I am bound by the vow I made to you, O God;

I will present to you thank-offerings;

12  For you have rescued my soul from death and my feet from stumbling,

that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

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The Collect:

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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I have been watching Bobby Fischer documentaries recently.  The brilliant chess master was not emotionally, mentally, and psychologically well for most of his life.  And his illness grew worse as he aged.

King Saul reminds of Bobby Fischer in some ways.  The Biblical authors understood the king’s mental disturbance as the result of possession by an evil spirit, but today professionals would offer a clinical diagnosis.  Nevertheless, one fact remains:  Saul had become dangerous to others, especially David.  Fortunately, David benefited (in the short term, at least) from the intercession his good friend, Jonathan, his brother-in-law and a son of Saul.

The lectionary I am following will skip to 1 Samuel 24 for tomorrow’s purposes, so I sense the imperative of explaining part of 1 Samuel 20.  Many translations of the Bible are overly polite in places.  Consider the Psalms, for example.  Whereas a literal translation of Hebrew text might be close to

Look, Yahweh!,

many translators have preferred something closer to “I beseech you, O Lord.”  Even the Hebrew texts use euphemisms for cursing, so many a modern version of the Bible does also.  Then there is The Living Bible (completed in 1971).  This is how Kenneth N. Taylor described a confrontation between Saul and Jonathan, per 1 Samuel 20:30-31:

Saul boiled with rage.  ”You son of a bitch!” he yelled at him.  ”Do you think I don’t know that you want this son of a nobody to be king in your place, shaming yourself and your mother?  As long as this fellow is alive, you’ll never be king.  Now go and get him, so I can kill him!”

A 1980s printing of The Living Bible in my library substitutes “fool” for “son of a bitch,” but Taylor captured the flavor of Saul’s outburst well the first time.

You son of a perverse and rebellious woman,

a standard English rendering, does not have the same power.

(Aside:  Pay attention.  This is probably the only time I will say or write anything nice about The Living Bible.  The best way to communicate my attitude toward that version is to tell a story.  A few years ago, in a Bible study of the Matthew Beatitudes, someone read them from The Living Bible.  The ethos of TLB, so evident in that particular text, inspired me to sing, “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony….”  I was, of course, echoing an early 1970s Christmas advertisement for Coca-Cola.)

In the short term, at least, Jonathan was able to shield David from his father’s violent rages.  Jonathan was in a difficult personal and political circumstance, but he did the right thing.  Sometimes doing the right thing is both hard and risky.  Yet mere human decency requires us to act properly.  Are you, O reader, in a difficult and risky situation with conflicting loyalties?  What does mere decency require of you?  And how much might it cost you?

Remember that what I do affects others, as does what you do.  What you do not do affects others, as does what I do not do.  Your circumstance might seem like a small and relatively insignificant one, but it might be more important than appearances indicate, for we are all connected to others.  So make the right decision and stand by it because it is the right thing to do, perhaps for more people than you can imagine.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 9, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT COLUMBA OF IONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY AND ABBOT

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/week-of-2-epiphany-thursday-year-2/

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