OT: 2 Sam. 17:1-29
Such short OT reading, with such a large amount of stuff in it.
First of all, man! Absalom has totally gone over to the dark side, hasn't he?? He is going to kill his father. He means bizness! By entertaining both Ahitophel's and Hushai's patricidal schemes, Absalom moves from resentful, bratty son territory to Joaquin-Phoenix-smothering-his-dad-in-Gladiator territory. And that guy was baaaaad. I am honestly shocked by Absalom's behavior.
And what was up with the author describing Ahitophel's advice as "good" (14)??? Um, buddy, I'm assuming that by "good," you mean "effective," b/c that advice was not in any way "good." However, I can't fault the author too much b/c I absolutely love his use of phrases that the NIV translates as "such and such" and "so and so" (15, 21). The author does that so that he does not have to rewrite the entire plans from A and H, which makes sense--but you know Moses would have given us a thorough recap in both cases. I've gotta say, I'm partial to the "such and such" approach. It keeps the narrative flowing.
I know that I have technically read the Bible through once before, but this part definitely did not stick. I was thoroughly intrigued by the scheming, the well-hiding, and the double-crossing. The only suspense-killer is that I know who wins (duh), and I also remember what happens to Absalom (I mean, how can you forget?).
NT: John 19:23-42
Okay, since this is our fourth crucifixion, I am going to get tangential.
A line of thought was sparked by verse 28: "Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty.'" You get the definite sense here that Jesus is playing a role, and that He knows the script. That concept spun off into comparisons between him and us, as Christians. One very popular idea in Biblical scholarship that has begun to trickle down to the Christian masses is the idea of "narrative," the idea that we are all players in one grand story. The Bible tells the first three acts, Revelation tells the 5th, and we are in the 4th (give or take. I am remembering that I typed this before b/c I noted then my compulsion to make this play Shakespearean. The point is, there is one story stretching from Genesis to Revelation, and we are IN the story right now.)
So anyway...bear with me. Jesus was capable of free choice, but he also had a role to fulfill. My mind is groping for the words to describe how we are in a similar circumstance. Yes, I believe that we have the power to choose our path in life. And yes, I believe that there is most likely more than ONE right path. I'm not a big believer, for example, in agonizing over what college God wants us to choose, or what city He wants us to move to, or what job He wants us to take. I say, seek God with all your heart, and "whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, 'This is the way; walk in it'" (Is. 30:21). So I'm still a big believer in free choice. But at the same time, I am trying to wrap my head around the idea that all of our independent choices lead up to the path we were always going to walk down. Like, it's all written in His book before we even do it. The only difference b/t us and Jesus in this case is that He knew the script, and we don't.
Now, that might seem a useless and pointless thought experiment, but to me, it helps reconcile the idea of free will with the idea of predestination. If we all have one path that we were always going to travel, well, then weren't we destined to go down that path? And if that path led to the Christian faith, then couldn't we say that God chose us for that path, that it was always written in His book? And couldn't it thus be possible to freely choose God and to be chosen by Him at the same time?
Maybe that's a stretch. That's where my thoughts led me today, though.
Psalm 119: 129-152
I loved verses 150-151, which say, "Those who devise wicked schemes are near, but they are far from your law. Yet you are near, O Lord, and all your commands are true."
"Those who devise wicked schemes are near...yet you are near." Evil is near, yet God is near. We have been talking with Luke about one of his recent memory verses: "God is with us wherever we go" (Josh. 1:9, kiddie version). We have been using that to explain why we don't need to be afraid of various things, like the ocean. But honestly, there is a lot of reason to be afraid of the ocean (and not b/c it is loud, which is Luke's reason). I mean, God made the ocean, but He also made the sharks in the ocean. When we are in the ocean, God is there...but so are jellyfish. And rip tides. So I've thought about how to teach that verse to my three year old, and the conclusion I've reached is that, "We are unafraid, not b/c bad things won't happen to us. We are unafraid, because God is still there in the midst of the bad things." "Those who devise wicked schemes are near...Yet you are near, O Lord."
Two proverbs about kings.