It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Reflection on readings for May 15

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
(Psalm 111:1-2)

1 Samuel 17:1-18:4
The army of Israel is camped in the valley of Elah facing the Philistines who are gathered for battle. (Previous battles between them in chapters 13 and 14). Goliath of the Philistines steps forward. He is 10 (or 9, or 6) feet tall, head protected by a bronze helmet, body by a coat of mail, legs by sheaves. He's carrying a javelin and holding a shield. He hollers out sarcastically, "Why are you positioned to fight a whole army? I'm one man. Just send out one man to fight me. If he beats me, the war is over. You win. If I beat him, the war is over. You lose."

All of Israel, including their king, Saul, hear this challenge. They don't have any 10-foot tall, armor-bearing soldiers to respond to this challenge. They are dismayed. They are afraid. In the meantime, not even on the battlefield, was David. His brothers are soldiers. He helps his dad take care of the sheep--when he's not playing music for Saul (16:14-23). He arrives at the battlefield in time to hear Goliath repeat his challenge.

King Saul has seen Goliath. He tells the lyre-playing shepherd, "You're not up to the job." David is willing to confront the king. He tells him what the job of shepherd involves. He's had the necessary experience--he has been able to kill lions and bears. "The Lord who saved me from lion and bear will save me from that Philistine." Saul is convinced enough to let David try. He gives him his own armor, hands over his own sword. But what has worked for Saul doesn't work for David. He can't even walk in the armor that Saul is used to. Instead David uses the tools he is accustomed to, a small bag of stones.

Goliath is amused when he sees what kind of opponent Israel has sent against him. Unfortunately for him, his helmet didn't extend over his forehead, and David had good aim.

Israel will continue to face powerful foes. They will continue to need someone to step forward. As do we. The battle is the Lord's, but we aren't supposed to cower in the crowd. We are to step up and out. 

John 8:21-30
What we say and what we do indicate who we think Jesus is.

Psalm 111:1-10
Although most of our prayers are asking please, we do occasionally (often?) also say "thank you" to God. Psalm 111 can be a model for our expression of gratitude. Gratitude for food, for a home, but also for the nature of the Lord, the one who would want to provide for us and is able to.

Gratitude, in this case, that's not a secret. The prayer is expressed in the company of the congregation.

Proverbs 15:11
Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord,
how much more human hearts!

Prayer for Today: O Lord, as we face whatever challenges are there for us today, remind us of this story of David, his willingness to risk himself in order to protect his people. And, as we face whatever challenges are there for us today, also remind us that our actions teach others who we think Jesus is. Amen.

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