2 SAMUEL 4:1-6:23 | JOHN 13:31-14:14 | PSALM 119:17-32 | PROVERBS 15:31-32
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Sometimes innocent blood is shed under the guise of revenge. That was certainly true for Ish-Bosheth. Although he was Saul’s son and had been installed as Saul’s successor, we have learned already that this was a young man who did not thirst for power and had been content to allow Abner, his father’s chief of armies to run his kingdom for him. Also, Ish-Bosheth appeared to be at peace with the House of David, and went so far as to returning Michal (actually, his aunt), David’s first wife, back to him.
But there is suddenly unrest everywhere: Abner has been murdered, the people are alarmed, and Ish-Bosheth is weakened even more. And to make matters worse, two thugs take it upon themselves to displace Ish-Bosheth permanently by killing him. Ish-Bosheth was not a criminal, and was certainly not pursued by David or anybody for that matter, and yet these two thugs thought they would win David’s favor by doing this dastardly deed. They find out soon enough what David’s reaction is when David orders both of them to be put to death for committing this heinous act of murdering the son of the king of Israel.
Following this incident, David is officially installed as undisputed king of Israel, and there is an account of his reign that is said to have lasted for a full forty years, counting the six years or so after Saul’s death right up until Ish-Bosheth’s death. David’s rule sees the conquering of the city of Jerusalem which is renamed the City of David, the further deafeat of the Philistines in the area, and the bringing of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem.
The imagery of the young and beautiful David, dancing in the streets in celebration of the coming of the Ark is a graphic one, and yet, it is tinged with sadness for Michal who is jealous of her husband’s public displays and chides him for it. But David points out to her certain pertinent facts, chief among them being the difference between her father and himself.
This is how David offers a clear explanation for his behavior: I will celebrate before the LORD, he says. Matter closed. Alas, it is Michal who is to be the woeful one and also the barren one for questioning her husband’s intents.
Turning now to our reading in the gospel of John, we see Jesus preparing for what is to come. He spares no time in telling his disciples so many things they ought to remember for the future—for when he will no longer be with them. One of the most significant teachings of Jesus is to be found here. Jesus says: 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Jesus continues to comfort his disciples who sense that their master is going to leave them soon. How and when they do not yet know, but still they are disturbed, and they in turn wish to tell Jesus that they would follow him to the ends of the earth. Alas, they do not realize that Jesus knows exactly what they will do—or at least what Peter will do!
Peter must not have been too happy to hear his dear Lord say to him that he would betray him three times in one day before the rooster crows! But Jesus does care for the grief that he knows his disciples are undergoing. He tells them most lovingly: 1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Furthermore, Jesus makes one of the most unequivocal statements yet: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Is that sufficiently clear, dear Thomas and Philip?
And if you have ever believed, listen to what Jesus says you can accomplish. Jesus says: 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Turning now to our psalm for the day, we find a continuation of the very long Psalm 119. Some verses from these sections are as follows:
23 Though rulers sit together and slander me,
your servant will meditate on your decrees.
24 Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors.
27 Cause me to understand the way of your precepts,
that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.
28 My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word.
29 Keep me from deceitful ways;
be gracious to me and teach me your law.
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I have set my heart on your laws.
31 I hold fast to your statutes, LORD;
do not let me be put to shame.
32 I run in the path of your commands,
for you have broadened my understanding.
Finally, a couple of verses from our reading from the book of Proverbs:
31 Whoever heeds life-giving correction
will be at home among the wise.
32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves,
but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.