2 SAMUEL 18:1-19:10 | JOHN 20:1-31 | PSALM 119:153-176 | PROVERBS 16:14-15
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The time for battle has come, and David’s men go out to meet Absalom and his men. But David’s one and only instruction to his men is: “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake”. It is only a parent’s heart that would be so soft toward even one of his own who is pursuing him to the death. But these orders are not followed. What happens instead is that not only are Absalom’s armies routed and twenty thousand men killed, but Absalom himself is struck down by Joab and killed, and his body thrown into a pit.
When David hears this news, he cries out, “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”
This might seem like a most conflicting emotion—love for a man who is out to kill you, but that is how it is. So overpowering is this thing called love that it is truly blinding, even to the point of death. Is this not akin to the love that God the father has for his children—children who have gone astray—and yet, each one is so precious that God incarnate gives his own life so that each one might have life instead.
But David’s mourning is cut short by the very matter-of-fact commander of his armies, Joab, who reminds David of the great losses that have already been incurred by his people. And with Absalom now gone, it is time for the king to return to Jerusalem.
Turning now to our reading in the gospel of John, we find the account of the wondrous resurrection of Jesus. “I have seen the Lord!” cries Mary Magdalene to the disciples. They must have thought her mad, no doubt, but she wasn’t the only one who had seen the Lord in the flesh, i.e., alive. Peter and another unnamed disciple would testify that Mary was not mad at all; Mary was right, the Lord was risen!
But Thomas, another disciple had missed all the action because he had not been present at the time that Jesus had appeared to the group, and so a week later, Jesus appears yet again and asks that Thomas touch him to see that he is indeed real. Jesus says this, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Finally, John ends this chapter and this book with these words, 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Turning now to our reading of the psalms, we continue in Psalm 119. Like David, we could also meditate on some of these verses in our own hour of need:
153 Look on my suffering and deliver me,
for I have not forgotten your law.
154 Defend my cause and redeem me;
preserve my life according to your promise.
156 Your compassion, LORD, is great;
preserve my life according to your laws.
And all the verses in their entirety from the section titled ‘Taw’:
169 May my cry come before you, LORD;
give me understanding according to your word.
170 May my supplication come before you;
deliver me according to your promise.
171 May my lips overflow with praise,
for you teach me your decrees.
172 May my tongue sing of your word,
for all your commands are righteous.
173 May your hand be ready to help me,
for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation, LORD,
and your law gives me delight.
175 Let me live that I may praise you,
and may your laws sustain me.
176 I have strayed like a lost sheep.
Seek your servant,
for I have not forgotten your commands.
Finally, a couple of verses from the book of Proverbs that are perhaps reminiscent of David’s reaction to the news that the messenger brought to him:
14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
but the wise will appease it.
15 When a king’s face brightens, it means life;
his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.