May Your Unfailing Love Come to Me, Lord

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2 SAMUEL 7:1-8:18 | JOHN 14:15-31 | PSALM 119:33-48 | PROVERBS 15:33

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“I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. ‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you:

12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’” 

These are the Lord’s words to David through the prophet Nathan.  And what a beautiful promise does David receive, indeed.  David accepts this with great humility, and the text tells us that he went on to establish himself firmly in his kingdom by way of gaining victory over his enemies and making peace with his neighbors.  There is no doubt that David is an able king, and yet it is to be seen how his personal life choices affect his reign.

Turning now to our reading in the book of John, we continue to learn of Jesus’ teachings as he approaches the end.  Jesus says, 15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth.” 

This is the Holy Spirit, part of the Triumvirate of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who is to serve as our advocate and intercessor.  But Jesus knows that his disciples are troubled by what he is telling them, primarily because they cannot understand its complete meaning.  How could they?  They knew not what is to come. 

And yet, Jesus is preparing them and tells them this also:  27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Turning now to our reading in the psalms, we continue with more sections of Psalm 119.  Some verses that speak to me are these:

34 Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
and obey it with all my heart.

41 May your unfailing love come to me, LORD,
your salvation, according to your promise.

Finally, one verse from the book of Proverbs to serve as food for thought:

33 Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD,
   and humility comes before honor.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.

By This Everyone Will Know That You Are My Disciples

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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 says11 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.

Oh, That My Ways Were Steadfast!

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2 SAMUEL 2:12-3:39 | JOHN 13:1-30 | PSALM 119:1-16 | PROVERBS 15:29-30

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Saul is no more, but his son Ish-Bosheth along with Saul’s commander of armies, Abner, have regrouped and are holding on to the position of ruling the majority of the kingdom of Israel.  And yet, there is tension and frequent conflict between the House of Saul and the House of David.  Also, there is infighting within Saul’s house, and soon Ish-Bosheth and Abner are not on the best of terms. This results in Abner changing horses in midstream to David’s side.  It was an amicable agreement to all concerned, even Ish-Bosheth, and we learn for the first time David’s kingship over all Israel—not just Judah—established in the land. 

But things don’t always go as planned, and sometimes they unfortunately go terribly wrong.  Abner is murdered by Joab, one of David’s men, in an act of revenge for Joab’s brother Asahel had been killed by Abner.  David is deeply saddened by this and laments Abner’s death.  But life does goes on.

Next, we learn about the passage of time by way of the number of wives and children that David has acquired over the years.  On last count, it is six wives, some perhaps the result of political alliances with the neighboring kingdoms.  But the time has come for David to assume the mantle of undisputed king over all of Israel. 

David’s first wife, Michal, Saul’s daughter, and perhaps David’s first love is returned to him after all these years.  This might seem like a strange thing, but perhaps there is something deeper to the renewal of this bond.  What was once lost has now been found. 

But there are always two sides to a coin, and the record also states that Michal’s second husband—the man that she spent all those years with when David was made to flee for his life and when her father gave her away in marriage to another man—it is this husband who is terribly distraught at the sight of his wife being taken away from him, and he follows her a great distance weeping all the way.  One can only imagine what Michal must have felt—David, her first love and first husband seeking her out after all these years, and now here is the second husband who obviously loves her so greatly that he cannot bear to let her go.  Would that this life were simpler!

Turning now to our reading in the book of John, we learn that we are rapidly approaching the end of Jesus’ ministry.  In this passage, Jesus is about to have a last meal with his disciples.  But this is no ordinary meal on several counts.  It is, of course, the feast of the Passover, and therefore a marked occasion for the Jewish people.  Jesus intends to observe this meal with his disciples, as he most likely has done in years past. 

But the bread and wine that is served at the table today is so much more than what it is:  it is the symbolic representation of the body and blood of Jesus himself who will give himself up to each of them, nay, to the entire world for all who believe that his bodily sacrifice is the Living Bread.  And all those who will receive this bread will also surely receive the free gift of eternal life with Jesus himself.

And beyond this great truth, there is yet another reason for this passover meal with Jesus to be like none other.  Before the meal is served, Jesus intends to do one thing:  despite all protests from Peter and perhaps even the others, Jesus insists on washing the feet of each of his disciples, even Judas, the one who betrays Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.  A greater act of humility cannot be found in the annals of history.  This is God incarnate come down to earth to witness his own creation put him to death, but before he allows that to take place, he wishes to wash the feet of mere mortals! 

And why all this?  John explains it like this: 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

We turn now to the psalm of the day which happens to be a very long one, and from which a partial reading is ours for the day.  Some verses that are food for thought are as follows:

2 Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—
5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast
   in obeying your decrees!
9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
12 Praise be to you, LORD;
teach me your decrees.

Finally, two verses from the book of Proverbs to meditate on:

29 The LORD is far from the wicked,
but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

30 Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart,
   and good news gives health to the bones.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.

You Are My God, and I Will Exalt You

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2 SAMUEL 1:1-2:11 | JOHN 12:20-50 | PSALM 118:19-29 | PROVERBS 15:27-28

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Saul is dead, and the messenger who brings this news to David is also soon dead.  Why the messenger, you ask?  Because, it was the principle of it—twice David had opportunity to kill Saul, but both times he does not touch a hair on his head for he believes that Saul is still the anointed one of God and is king of Israel. 

But this Amalekite who happens upon Saul in the midst of battle thinks he is doing Saul a favor by putting him out of his misery when he finds that he is still alive almost impaled on his own spear—and proceeds to kill him.  But this young man does not find favor in the eyes of David when he brings the news of Saul’s death to him.

David mourns Saul’s death and records a lament on this occasion.  Jonathan was like a brother to him, after all, and David always viewed Saul as the anointed king of Israel—despite the great insecurity that Saul harbored ever since David slew the great Goliath.  And so, David sings this lament, paying tribute to both Saul and Jonathan:

23 Saul and Jonathan— in life they were loved and admired, and in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.

24 “Daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and finery, who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.

25 “How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights.

26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.

27 “How the mighty have fallen! The weapons of war have perished!”

An end of an era, but certainly the beginning of a new one.  We are now, incidentally, into a new book:  the second book of Samuel.  After the death of Saul, in due time, David inquires of the Lord and goes down to Hebron where he is established king of Judah.  However, Judah is one of many provinces in ancient Palestine.  One of Saul’s sons is appointed king of the rest of the tribes in succession.  There would have been conflict surely between the Houses of David and Saul.

Turning now to our reading in the book of John, Jesus foretells his death, and continues to exhort the people to believe in him as the long-awaited Messiah. 

He says quite plainly:  “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.”

There are many who believe, and yet there are still many others who do not.  Jesus continues: “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

Our psalm for the day is a continuation of Psalm 118.  David is foretelling the great salvation that is to come with the coming of the Messiah who would be unfortunately rejected by his people.  It is Jesus himself who is that cornerstone that David speaks of:

22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;

23 the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

24 The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.

David’s frequent litanies of praise are ones to be emulated.  It is never too much or too soon to raise our voices in praise to the Lord.  Like David, may we also say:

28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.

29 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Finally, two verses from the book of Proverbs that are good food for thought.  The first one is a straightforward instruction to flee from the giving or getting of bribes.  The second is one that reminds us to weigh our responses with care.  Solomon, wise king of Israel, says:

27 The greedy bring ruin to their households,
but the one who hates bribes will live.

28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers,
but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.

The Lord Is With Me, I Will Not Be Afraid

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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.

Do You Believe This?

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1 SAMUEL 26:1-28:25 | JOHN 11:1-54 | PSALM 117:1-2 | PROVERBS 15:22-23

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If Saul had an epiphany yesterday, it was indeed short-lived.  Today, he is hunting David again.  And yet again, the hunter becomes the hunted.  David comes upon Saul and his men in the dead of night, and yet again David spares Saul’s life. 

David says this to his companion who is prepared to use Saul’s own spear to kill him:  “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the LORD lives,” he said, “the LORD himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 But the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed. 

And once again, Saul is contrite about his intentions, and says to David, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have been terribly wrong.”

But David has become wary of Saul, and where this is no trust, there is little respect.  David doesn’t wish to be a man on the run, and decides to leave the plains of Judah—traditional Israelite territory—and takes his men and goes over to Philistine territory, and it is there that he settles for a while.  The king of Gath thinks he has had a good deal with a strong warrior friend like David who can help him in his own battles.  He actually proposes that he will install David as his personal bodyguard for life!  Little does he know that he is addressing the future king of Israel.

In the meantime, Saul is yet again disturbed and has a premonition that his end is near.  So strong is this premonition that he insists that it be confirmed by a medium, although he himself has had banned all such mediums and the occult arts from the land—most likely in a wave of repentance and turning to God’s ways.  But his great fear and distress cause him to seek out a female medium whom he approaches incognito.  This woman invokes the spirit of Samuel, who in turn tells Saul that his end is near, very near.

Turning now to our reading in the gospel according to John, we encounter the story of Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary.  These three siblings must have been around Jesus’ age, and evidently enjoyed a close friendship with Jesus.  When Lazarus falls ill and suddenly dies, his two sisters are devastated and send word to Jesus.  Jesus is moved by their faith, and goes to them at once. 

When Martha comes out to meet Jesus, who still quite far off from the house, Jesus assures her that her brother will rise again.  But Martha says plainly to Jesus that yes, of course, she knows that he will rise again on the day of resurrection.  But Jesus is speaking of an instant resurrection!  He says to Martha:   “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Yes, says Martha, yes, I do!  And so, Jesus accompanied by Martha, Mary, his own disciples, and perhaps many other neighbors and lookers-on, go to the tomb where Lazarus has been buried for four days now.  And what happens next is nothing short of incredible.  It is one of those scenes that may only be described as surreal. 

Imagine the reaction of the people when they hear Jesus call out:  “Lazarus, come out!” and they see Lazarus walk out from the tomb toward them!  Imagine the horror, the fright, the amazement, the hysteria!  This was a man who had been dead for four days, and whose body was placed in the tomb, but today, he is walking toward them.  Lazarus is alive!  Can you imagine what a story Lazarus must have had to tell for the rest of his life.

And yet, despite even this supernatural act, the leaders in the Temple are wary of Jesus, and believe him to be a blasphemer possessed with powers from the evil one.  They have been plotting to put him to death, and soon we shall see how they band together to accomplish this.  Woe is to them!

Turning now to our reading of the psalms, we find a very short one in Psalm 117, a short and sweet psalm of praise:

1 Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.

2 For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.

   Praise the LORD.

And finally, two verses from our reading in the book of Proverbs.  Unrelated to each other, these two are as follows:

22 Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.

23 A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
   and how good is a timely word!

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.

I Will Call On Him as Long as I Live

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1 SAMUEL 24:1-25:44 | JOHN 10:22-42 | PSALM 116:1-19 | PROVERBS 15:20-21

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Why did Saul wish David dead?  Fear of losing power?  Fear that the people loved David more than him?  Yes, those were Saul’s primary reasons for wishing David dead.  It wasn’t because David had done him any harm.  In spite of being anointed king of Israel by Samuel (possibly a few years before all this), David was a humble young man who had served Saul—first as the young son of Jesse who takes up the challenge to fight the giant Goliath and is victorious in that mission, then as the lyre-player to soothe the troubled mind of Saul. 

Further still, he commands Saul’s armies to do battle with the Philistines and others and is victorious each time.  He even becomes best friends with Saul’s son, Jonathan, and further still, he is a respectful son-in-law marrying Saul’s daughter, Michal.  And for all this, how is David treated?  He is treated badly—very badly!  Saul is determined to kill David whom he views as his rival.  And so, David has no choice but to flee.  And it has been possibly months, perhaps even years since he began his flight, and over time, David has regrouped in several places, and now has a small following of men to his name.

Today, we find that Saul has come very close to capturing and killing David.  With an army of three thousand men, he has finally come upon the place where David is known to be found.  But wouldn’t you know it—the hunter becomes the hunted.  It is David who comes upon Saul who is in a most vulnerable position, and it would have only been a matter of seconds for David to have struck him down.  Had David truly been an evil man, he would most certainly have done so.  But David had nothing to hide, and certainly nothing to fear.  And so, David approaches Saul in a most respectful manner to ask why it is that the king of Israel is out to kill him.

And right then and there, there is an epiphany that takes place in Saul’s head and heart.  He is a transformed man!  This is what the record tells us; he says this to David:  “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. 17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the LORD delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”

Continuing with David’s story, we find a curious account of a man named Nabal and his wife Abigail.  While Nabal is haughty and refuses to cooperate with David and his men, it is Abigail who takes matters into her own hands in order to prevent death and destruction from befalling her household.  And as the story goes, it is not long before circumstances so arrange themselves that Abigail becomes a widow and a wife again—this time to David.

Earlier in this passage, we also learn about the passing away of Samuel in his old age.  The end of another era…

Turning now to our reading in the book of John, we find that Jesus continues to baffle and incense some people who question his identity and his claims to Messiahship.  No matter how straightforward or even how many times Jesus unequivocally states that he is indeed the Messiah, i.e., the Son of God, there are those who refuse to believe.  There have been of course, many amazing miracles that Jesus has performed to which the reaction of the people is two-fold:  some believe, and others do not. 

The ones who do not believe are the ones who believe that Jesus is committing the sin of blasphemy by claiming to be the Messiah.  And every so often, things begin to get out of hand and these self-righteous people begin to stone Jesus.  Doing evil to the one who does good!  How much more depraved could the people get! 

But Jesus says to them:  “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”   And the people say: “We are not stoning you for any good work, but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

Turning now to our psalm for the day, we find Psalm 116 to be one written in the most heartfelt and intimate way.  The emotions are raw and unadulterated.  This is one person’s open and honest account of his experience with his God.  And what an amazing thing it is that several millenia later, these very same feelings are still so similar and strong in many of us who share David’s views.  The entire psalm is reproduced here for a full meditation:

1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

3 The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“LORD, save me!”

5 The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
6 The LORD protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.

7 Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.

8 For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.

10 I trusted in the LORD when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said,
“Everyone is a liar.”

12 What shall I return to the LORD
for all his goodness to me?

13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.

15 Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, LORD;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.

17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD—
in your midst, Jerusalem.

   Praise the LORD.

Finally, a verse from the book of Proverbs that may serve as food for thought:

21 Folly brings joy to one who has no sense,
but whoever has understanding keeps a straight course.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.