This past Thursday, those at the Bible Study remarked how they had never considered some of our topics before, and a few people asked Sunday if I would share a few of the metaphors, themes, images, and teachings that we considered. So here goes:
The Civil War (18:6-8) – this was a battle a bit bigger than our own Antietam, yet only a few sentences are devoted to it. Why?
Absalom riding a mule (18:9) – Preferred mount of kings and princes in much of Samuel and Kings. As Absalom loses his mount, he loses his kingdom.
Absalom hanging (18:9) – He has rebelled against God’s anointed. Who can support him? To whom can he look for help? Does this look forward to Judas?
How did he get stuck? (18:9) – Josephus (a Jewish Historian) attributed it to his head full of hair (14:26). If that is true, pride has certainly led to a tragic demise.
David’s mourning (18:33) -- Nathan’s words have to ring in David’s ears. Though God has taken away his guilt, David must realize that his “taking” rather than “serving” has led to this terrible moment.
Who could stand? (2) – Rite 1 worshippers are reminded of this teaching every time they gather for the Eucharist: “. . . we beseech Thee to accept this our bounden duty and service, not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offenses . . . ”
Watchmen for the morning (5) – those of us who have worked graveyard shifts understand this better than others, but have you ever noticed the darkness before the dawn? Now, imagine that your family, friends, and townfolk depend upon your vigilance for their safety. How much would you long for the sunrise?
We can be angry (26) – What is anger? The emotion is not the sin, it is what we do with it that is the sin. We are told not to dwell on it, however.
Thieves and Deadbeats (27) – Human nature has changed very little the last two millennia. Paul is reminding us of our obligation to work as we are able for the lifting up of the needy.
Be forgiving (32) – Is there a harder lesson?
Bread of life – If there is a harder lesson, this might be it. We should think of Moses feeding Israel with manna and Jesus feeding the 5000. But even those images fall short of His offer now. And none can come to Him unless drawn by the Father who sent Him. Even our faith is a gift of God?
As I said Sunday, there were a host of topics and questions raised by all our readings (this list is by no means exhaustive of the possible topics/questions), many of which did not address current pastoral needs, but which might well shed new light on events in our past or get us through some trials in the future. Better still, in trying to accommodate our desires for shorter worship times and sermons, many of the readings are lifted from other teachings with which they are intertwined. (for example, though we read Nathan’s “You are the man,” we skipped the mercy offered, “The Lord has put away your sin, you shall not die) Feel free to add your own questions or to join us on Thursdays as we explore our readings each week!