The Grand Ole Opry: A Class Act in the Heart of Tennessee
1 SAMUEL 18:5-19:24 | JOHN 8:31-59 | PSALM 112:1-10 | PROVERBS 15:12-14
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Saul is fast becoming a madman. Envy of David’s popularity with the people, his own daughter’s love of David, his son Jonathan’s friendship with David, and David’s excellent warrior-skills have made Saul begin to detest David to the point of wanting to take his life. Gone are the days when David’s playing the lyre soothed him; all Saul wants now is that David either be killed in battle or he will take care of it himself! Which Saul tries to do—not once but twice—in hurling his spear at David with the clear purpose of impaling him to death, but each time David escapes.
After the last such episode, David’s wife, Michal, Saul’s own daughter, arranges for David to escape from their bedroom window. David goes to seek Samuel’s counsel, and when Saul is made aware of David’s whereabouts, he sends his men to either capture or kill David.
But strange are the ways and means of the Almighty. All the men sent on this mission end up a different man than what he was when he had set out to hunt David. It is said that the spirit of the Lord descended upon each of them, and they appeared to have become godly men prophesying in the presence of Samuel and the others, most likely David included!
Three times does Saul send a band of men on this mission of killing David, and the same outcome takes places all three times. Finally, Saul himself rises to go and get the job done in person, and wouldn’t you know it—he himself is transformed into a man possessed by the Spirit of the Lord, and the people marvel at this sight to wonder if Saul was also among the prophets!
Turning now to our reading in the book of John, we encounter Jesus talking with the people, especially those who have believed in his words and teachings. Jesus says to them, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
But these words seem to evoke more confusion than clarity, and the questions about Jesus’ identity and authority continue unabated. Who is this man who claims to have come from God, nay, claims to be God’s son, i.e., God himself? Who is this man who claims that those who believe in him will never taste death?
The people are outraged yet again and see this as nothing short of blasphemy, sacrilege, madness! They know their own history, they know who their prophets were, they know that they are the descendants of Abraham, and here’s this man telling them he knows better, and that he might be greater than Abraham?! This calls for immediate action.
The people say to Jesus: “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”
And Jesus simply says to them, “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!”
Turning now to our psalm of the day, we find Psalm 112 to be a psalm of praise. David, the poet-king of Israel offers up these praises to the Almighty with the quiet confidence of one who has seen many ups and downs in his lifetime. These verses are a testament to his own experience of God’s goodness, and serve as a reminder of God’s great faithfulness that transcends time and people. David says:
4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
5 Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
who conduct their affairs with justice.
6 Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.
7 They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
8 Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
9 They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn will be lifted high in honor.
Finally, a few verses from the book of Proverbs:
12 Mockers resent correction, so they avoid the wise.
13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.
14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.