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.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Reflection on readings for May 24

Open my eyes, 
so that I may behold
wondrous things 
out of your law.
(Psalm 119:18)

2 Samuel 4:1-6:23
Saul is dead. His son Jonathon is dead (although his son is still alive). Although he was initially kept from battle, David turned a defeat into a victory.

Eventually, the tribes of Israel conclude that David should be their king.

Or, am I supposed to be reading this as finally the people of Israel catch on to what the Lord has long planned?

Are differences between factions no longer important after the leadership is decided? (If we read ahead, we see that the tribes will split apart after Solomon's reign).

Back to the king part. When the people had first wanted a king, the Lord had forecast for them what life with a human king would be like (see 1 Samuel 8), but they wanted one anyway. Their fear of their armed neighbors led them to a desire for a king. They no longer trusted God; they wanted a powerful human being to lead a powerful army against their powerful foes. Samuel had tried to talk them out of it, but failed.

Saul was made king, but failed.

Now, David is king, and, so far, seems successful. The enemies are driven back. The northern and southern tribes have combined. They have a new capital--Jerusalem.

David decides to bring the ark to Jerusalem. The capital will then have the earthly king and the mark of the presence of the heavenly king both in the same city.

A great procession marks the occasion--everyone is dancing, including David.

1. How are we to interpret the account of the death of Uzzah? Do we read this as a warning to be respectful in front of the Lord? Or, that the holiness of God is paramount? Or, that motives don't matter when we break the rules? (I'm not very happy with any of these)

2. What about David's conduct was so upsetting to Michal?

3. Was anyone upset that David took over the role of a priest?

4. What symbol or symbols remind us of the presence of God? In what ways are we reminded to mark our respect for them?

John 13:31-14:14
Peter has just asked Jesus where he was going, and he replied that Peter couldn't follow him yet. Jesus then added that Peter was going to deny him three times.

In today's passage, Jesus is speaking to a group, also addressing their concern about his leaving them behind.

"Don't be troubled," he tells them. He then gives them the basis for confidence, "Believe in God and believe in me".

Their faith in God and in him will allow themselves to remain connected with them even when they no longer can see the physical Jesus. They will remain connected to him. And they don't have to wait to die for this to be true. They will be in relationship with him--as he puts it, they will dwell with him.

I'm curious but haven't looked hard enough to find an explanation of why the word translated as "dwelling places" in the NRSV was translated as "mansions" in the KJB. The Greek noun mone has the same root as the verb translated as 'abide."

Thomas thinks that Jesus is talking about geography when he says that "You know the way to the place that I am going." Many modern Christians tend to think that Jesus meant that only Christians can get to heaven.

According to O'Day and Hylen's commentary on John, both interpretations are a misunderstanding of this gospel's message:
...the "I am" saying of Jesus' response (v.6) shows that "way" refers to the revelatory work of Jesus...similar to the gate and shepherd sayings of chapter 10; Jesus identifies himself as the point of access to life with God (gate, way) and the embodiment of that life (shepherd, life). Like the shepherd imagery, this language is familiar from the Old Testament. The "way" is usually associated with God's law and God's wisdom: "Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth" (Psalm 86:11; see Psalm 119:1,3, 5, 27, 33; Proverbs 2:8, 12, 13, 20). Moses' farewell discourse likewise associates life with obeying God's commandments (Deuteronomy 30:15-20). Judaism affirmed that the way to God was through the practice of and meditation on God's law. John affirms this basic sentiment and specifies that Jesus, God's Word, is that way to life....
O'Day and Hylen caution us to understand that John's gospel has as its central theological conviction that Jesus is the tangible presence of God in the world. People by encountering Jesus could have a new experience of God. John is concerned with helping Christians recognize and name God.

Psalm 119:17-32

Proverbs 15:31-32
The ear that heeds wholesome admonition
    will lodge among the wise.
Those who ignore instruction 
    despise themselves,
but those who heed admonition
    gain understanding.

Prayer for Today: O Lord our God, you have shown us the way. Help us now to follow that way. Amen.

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