Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June 1

OT: 2 Sam. 18:1-19:10

Today, the civil war ends, as Absalom is killed by Joab, after getting his hair caught in a tree. Joab's actions here show him to be a practical, yet ruthless guy. I mean, Absalom really has to die, doesn't he? He wants to be king; he wants to kill his father; and he is quite close to succeeding. Is there ever a time period or a country where such a man would be allowed to live? It kind of seems like Joab does what has to be done.

Needless to say, though, David is not a fan of this action. His cries when he hears the news are among the more heart-wrenching of those in Scripture: "O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you--O Absalom, my son, my son!" I remember my preacher reading these verses in one of his first sermons after his thirteen year old daughter had died suddenly and tragically. He talked about how much he related to David's words, and I remember my 17-year-old self crying along with David and Mr. Rob.

I get so caught up in David's sorrow that I am always unprepared for Joab's (verbal) slap in the face and his rather harsh, "Pull yourself together" speech. Again, though, Joab makes sense. The man is nothing if not practical. David has a kingdom to consider, and an army to lead and maintain. He has got to quit weeping for his enemy. That's sad, but again, I see what Joab is saying.

Random question: Verse 18:8 says, "The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest claimed more lives that day than the sword." What on earth does that mean?

NT: John 20:1-31

Oddly, both our OT and NT readings today contain tales of one man outrunning another. Both tales are similar to me in that I find their inclusion in Scripture to be pretty bizarre.

The story of Jesus talking to Mary, and particularly the question, "Woman, why are you crying?" has sentimental value to me, but I won't go into the whole thing now. I will just say that I love that interchange and that I can totally relate to the experience of not being able to see the God that is right in front of me. And when you do recognize Him, as Mary did, it is a wonderful experience.

I was pretty confused a few verses later, though, when Jesus gives His disciples the Holy Spirit and tells them, "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive the, they are not forgiven." What? How do the disciples have the authority to forgive sins, or even more importantly, to withhold forgiveness of sins? Is it just because they have the Holy Spirit? Because I have the Holy Spirit, and I certainly don't believe I have that authority. This, to me, sounds like another example of something the Catholics apply more literally than we do. Don't Catholic priests have the authority to forgive sins? I need to ask my neighbor.

I think I have either heard or read that, due to verses 30-31, this was considered to be the original ending of John, and that the rest was added later. Of course, I have no idea if that is true. I think the main argument is the conclusive nature of those last two verses.

Psalm 119: 153-176

Love for God's word is a primary theme in this chapter, obviously. The psalmist's suffering is a somewhat smaller theme. And a third, even smaller theme is the psalmist's contempt for those who do not follow God's Law. I have seen it in several of the stanzas, but today it especially jumped out at me, for some reason. Looking back, the theme is only explicitly in verse 158, but that verse is just so jarring: "I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey your word." Well. I don't know what God thought about that with OT people, but Jesus does not seem to be of that mind, to say the least.

Proverbs 16:14-15

Two more proverbs about kings, both of which seem more like observations than pieces of advice.


  1. verse 18:8 That also jumped out to me. And I wondered if God's hand was there...He won so many battles for his side in miraculos ways. So I wondered if the forest became very trecherous for the foe just like it was when Absalom caught his hair in the tree.

    The verse that jumped out to me was 6: "You love those who hate you and hate those who love you." While I do understand what Joab was talking about, it just made me think of how God still loves those that hate Him because he created them and longs for them and mourns for them...although the rest of that verse doesn't exactly play for me! b/c I do not believe that God hates those who love Him!

    John: When I read that reference regarding forgiveness, it made me think of how when I forgive others, they ARE forgiven but if I hold back my forgiveness, then they are not forgiven atleast not by me! Could it be that simple??? Since we are filled with the Holy Spirit, I know that we are expected to forgive b/c of the grace that has been given to us.

    And I enjoyed the connection of the runners, didn't notice that, very interesting.

  2. I thought the same about Joabs slapping of David around ..I thought it harsh, but David responded so well. I thought it was interesting how that was his response. The respect he must have for Joab that he was both able to talk that way to the king AND that the king didnt have his head for it. That, after Joab had killed his son and in the midst of David's own grief over his loss. Hmph.

    Also, the verse about the forest ..I was baffled. I kept seeing the trees from Lord of the Rings grabbing people from the forest ..creepy.

    And ..that is all I got today. Yesterday the OT was as good as I was able to do. Today we will shoot for OT AND NT! :)

  3. Glad to see I wasn't the only one confused about the forest. And Courtney, I went back and deleted a sentence that said something like, "Unless that forest was populated with Ents, I don't know how that's possible." Good to see I'm not the only one who flashed to Lord of the Rings, b/c that kind of made me feel like a dork:).