1 SAMUEL 29:1-31:13 | JOHN 11:55-12:19 | PSALM 118:1-18 | PROVERBS 15:24-26
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We continue with the story of David, the fugitive, and today we learn that despite being friends with Achish, the Philistine king, David is not so popular with the other Philistine kings in the area. Achish is pressured by his peers to let David go, i.e., not allow him to fight alongside them. David was after all, fighting on the wrong side, but he had been forced to do that since Saul, king of Israel was out to get him.
But David acceeds to Achish’s wish, and takes his men and returns to Ziklag, the place where the rest of his men and family had camped. Upon reaching, however, he finds that the entire encampment has been raided and his people have evidently been taken away as prisoners of war. David and his men are devastated and it says “David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.”
But David isn’t one to give up that easily. After consulting with God and his high priest, Abiathar, David takes his men and heads out to the Amalekites—this he knows, because there is an Egyptian slave found in the desert who confirms that he served the Amalekites who came through earlier, and they had plundered and taken away the people and the loot back with them. And so, it isn’t long before David reaches the Amalakites, destroys them, and returns with all his people and supplies.
In the meantime, we learn of Saul doing battle with some other Philistines. Years of doing such battle with the Philistines has made him no less war-weary, but he knows that his end is near. When he receives word that his three sons have died in battle and he himself is gravely wounded, he orders his armor-bearer to kill him, but when those orders go unheeded, Saul makes the choice to fall on his own sword and take his life.
And such is the fate of the first king of Israel. A man from the tribe of Benjamin anointed of God, and yet, one who couldn’t establish himself as a king who was truly loved by his people. Having turned away from God in his latter years, and especially since the defeat of Goliath by a young shepherd boy called David, Saul’s life had changed for the worse, and what had begun to go bad had now gone rotten. In Saul’s death, we see the end of another era.
Turning now to our reading in the book of John, we find that Jesus’ popularity has grown considerably since the Lazarus incident. Remember Lazarus, the man raised from the dead? Well, it isn’t surprising that word had spread like wildfire, and people from far and near were coming out to see this man called Jesus who could raise a man from the dead. All this interest in Jesus was making the Pharisees even more nervous, and they began to think even more seriously about how to shut up this blasphemous man. Especially at a time like this, during the feast of the Passover.
But Jesus can’t be bothered by the Pharisees, and continues to do what he does best: engage with the people. He returns to visit his friends, Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Ever since Lazarus rose from the dead, there is obviously great rejoicing, and today, the sisters wish to give a dinner party in Jesus’ honor.
So, Jesus comes as the guest of honor, and during the course of the evening, Mary takes out a most expensive perfume to pour it upon Jesus’ feet. It is to demonstrate a great love and honor for their friend Jesus, and this is Mary’s way of showing it. What’s more, she wipes Jesus’ feet with her own hair.
But guess who isn’t too impressed with this show of love and devotion? Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ disciples scolds Mary for her extravagance. But Jesus will hear none of it. Let her be, he says to Judas. You will always have the poor with you, but you will not have me physically present with you forever. Let her be. What you see as an extravagance will be honored as a beautiful demonstration of love and devotion by a young woman whose heart is bursting with gratitude.
Later, we learn about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem for the occasion of the Passover. Jesus enters on a humble animal: a colt. And the people shout, Hosanna! Hosanna in the Hebrew tongue is a word that literally means “save” but is synonymous for “praise”. The people chant: “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” But Jesus has not come to be a king. He has come to seek and to save the lost.
Turning now to our psalm for the day, we find David’s confidence and exuberance is unmatched in the Lord’s provision. He says:
5 When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD;
he brought me into a spacious place.
6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
7 The LORD is with me; he is my helper.
I look in triumph on my enemies.
8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in humans.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.
Finally, a verse from the book of Proverbs to serve as a reminder on the virtue of humility:
25 The LORD tears down the house of the proud,
but he sets the widow’s boundary stones in place.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.