Thursday, May 13, 2010

May 13

OT: I Sam. 13:23-14:52

Accomplishing God's will can be a tricky thing sometimes. When we left the Israelites yesterday, they were almost paralyzed by fear of the Philistines, and Saul's army had dwindled from 3,000 to 600 (13:2, 15). In the meantime, the Philistines has amassed roughly a million billion soldiers (13:5). Oh yeah--and the Israelites were unarmed (13:22). Plus, Saul had just been informed that his kingship would pass away. So in short, it was not cheery times.

Saul has decided to spend this time burning (unacceptable) sacrifices to God, pronouncing ridiculous and pointless curses, and trying various ways of seeking God's will.

Jonathan has decided to spend this time attacking Philistines with his armor bearer.

What's odd is that, in appearance at least, Saul is seeking God's will and favor. Jonathan....well, Jonathan just assumes he has it. To make sure, he comes up with a little test for the Philistines, and when the test comes back favorably, he goes on the attack.

To continue the theme from yesterday, it seems from this story that fear and faith don't mix. Saul was trying to be faithful, but he was too doggone terrified to really have any faith. Both of his shows of faith (burning the sacrifice and wanting to sacrifice Jonathan to hear God's will) were desperate, panic-induced acts that occurred when Saul didn't get his answers and assurance in time. Jonathan didn't burn any sacrifices or say any prayers, but his bravery proved his strong faith. While Saul bumbled about helplessly, Jonathan acted.

The whole ridiculousness with the honey further proves the point. Saul kept trying to do things that would get the Lord to reveal His will, which led to his odd predicament of having to kill the hero of the day (and his son). All in all, this was a pretty bizarre story, and one that showed the flip side of the qualities I earlier admired in Saul. Now, his humility and unassuming nature is beginning to look like weakness.

NT: John 7:30-53

I love the image of Jesus standing up on the last day of the Feast and shouting, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him" (37-8). Now that is a proclamation! I think that even after all the bizarre things that Jesus has just said, I would have found that declaration intriguing. Unlike so much of his harsh discourse, this pronouncement sounds inviting. It sounds hopeful. And it sounds confident without being off-putting. Plus, I like the imagery.

I was also amused by the Pharisees' snobbery. First they say, "Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that kneows nothing of the law--there is a curse on them" (48). I'm sure Nicodemus was having an awkward moment there, and to his credit, he speaks up, saying, "Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?" I like that Nicodemus. But I still find the Pharisees' subsequent smack-down to be funny: "Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee. Idiot" (52). I might have added that last part. What strikes me about the Pharisees is that they were sooooo sure of themselves. They knew that they knew what was what. They knew that they had the right beliefs, the right viewpoints. And look where that got them. It blinded them! I'm all for being confident in what you believe, but sometimes I think that certainty is the enemy of knowledge.

Psalm 109:1-31

In today's psalm, David shares some more of his vengeful daydreams with God. I think that this man after God's own heart would be shocked by the Sermon on the Mount. The funny thing is, though he is no fan of the idea of loving one's enemy, he does actually practice it with Saul.

Proverbs 15:5-7

Argh. Heeding correction. I generally take correction very much to heart, which is why I guess it is so painful. So I guess I heed it...but I don't always react well to it initially.

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