Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 19

OT: I Sam. 24:1-25:44

In his psalms, David often entertains vengeful fantasies...but he is also sure to specify that he wants God, not him, to carry them out. From those psalms, one can conclude that David's system of morality does not necessarily include love for one's enemies, but it does understand that "Vengeance is mine," saith the Lord. Today, we get to see two scenarios showing how that morality plays out in David's life.

In the first, David has a prime chance to kill Saul when Saul stops to take a leak without realizing that David is hiding in the same cave (my 5th-6th grade boys especially loved that urine featured prominently in this story). Indeed, David's own men urge him to kill Saul, and yet, something holds him back. He ends up just cutting off a corner of Saul's robe, and then becomes ashamed even of that. He does use the corner of the robe as a jumping off point for a long speech to Saul, which culminates in Saul having a tearful change of heart. Saul's reaction again raises the idea of bipolarity: just before, Saul was angrily killing innocent men and their families (and towns) because of his paranoid delusions; now, he is sobbing while telling David that surely he will be king.

In contrast, David next gets offended by the obnoxious Nabal and is totally set on exterminating him and all the males in his house. To me, that is just crazy, especially after David was so merciful to Saul. Nabal's wife, Abigail, saves the day with a long and submissive speech to David, and then David gives us a little insight into his view of his actions. Among other things, he tells Abigail, "May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands" (25:33). These words seem to indicate that David understands that his planned actions were wrong. When God strikes Nabal dead, David's reaction further supports this view: "Praise be to the Lord, who has upheld my cause against Nabal...He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal's wrongdoing down on his own head" (39). Clearly, David knew that in avenging himself on Nabal, he would have been "doing wrong." And yet, he does rejoice in Nabal's death. It's an interesting outlook. On the one hand, David's belief that vengeance is God's seems a bit forward-thinking for his own day. On the other hand, Jesus' teachings do a lot to push an even stronger morality, one that would not rejoice over the death (and eternal damnation) of an unrighteous man.

Lastly, I was struck by the description of Abigail as "an intelligent and beautiful woman" (25:3). The word, "intelligent," is what struck me, as I don't really hear that word much in the NIV. Out of curiosity, I looked it up on The NIV only translates the word "intelligent" four times. You could probably guess two of them if you know I Corinthians. The last reference is to the only other person besides Abigail whom the Bible describes as intelligent. Any guesses?

Sergius Paulus, the proconsul at Pathos. (Yeah, I had no idea, either.)

NT: John 10: 22-42

Today, Jesus cites one of the psalms that confused me the most. Unfortunately, it seems like he refers to it not to explain it, but simply to outsmart his opponents, as He did in the Synoptics while in Jerusalem (e.g. Matt. 22:44). But who can blame Him? After all, He spends much of today's passage just inches away from death by stoning.

Also today, I saw some scriptural support for the idea of "once saved, always saved," a teaching that usually sounds ridiculous to me. In verses 27-28, Jesus says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." In some ways, I think the difference b/t my opinion and the "once saved, always saved" people is mainly semantics. After all, we all know people who have embraced the faith, become active Christians...and then eventually walked away from it completely. I would say that they are no longer Christians; the "once saved, always saved" camp would probably say that they never were. I disagree with that, but again, I guess it is pretty much semantics.

Lastly, I pictured this passage very cinematically, from Jesus' wandering alone to Solomon's Colonnade, to his verbal parrying with and physical escape from his accusers. I think that with the right director, this could be a very engaging scene on the big screen:).

Psalm 116:1-19

This psalmist freely admits that he loves God because of what God has done for him. Ultimately, I think that's true for all of us. As I John 4:19 says, "We love because he first loved us."

Also, I thought verse 15 was a bit ahead of its time: "Precious in the Lord is the death of his saints." This open-mindedness about death stands in stark contrast to David's intermittent groveling and begging of God to spare his life.

Proverbs 15:20-21

Wisdom causes one to honor one's parents and to "keep a straight course."


  1. The NET Bible has extensive footnotes which give interesting insights into Psalm 82. See the bottom of this page.

  2. Thanks, Erika. Those footnotes were interesting. Based on Jesus' reference, I tend to interpret the "gods" as human judges rather than as Canaanite gods. At least, that's how Jesus seems to have read it, based on his allusion.