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Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Today’s Reading | 2 Samuel 21–22; 1 Corinthians 9
Text for this reflection | 2 Samuel 21:14; 22:17–24
The bones of Saul and his son Jonathan were then buried in Zela, in Benjaminite territory, in the tomb of Saul's father Kish. Once everything the king had commanded was done, God responded to prayers for the land.
. . .
From on high God reached down
and grabbed me;
he took me out of deep waters.
God saved me from my powerful enemy,
saved me from my foes, who were too much for me.
They came at me
on the very day of my distress,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out to wide-open spaces;
he pulled me out, because he is pleased with me.
The Lord rewarded me
for my righteousness;
he restored me because my hands are clean,
because I have kept the Lord's ways.
I haven't acted wickedly against my God.
All his rules are right in front of me;
I haven't turned away from any of his laws.
I have lived with integrity before him;
I've kept myself from wrongdoing.
David asks the Lord why a famine plagues the land, but then asks the Gibeonites, not God, what to do to make amends. I cannot imagine God intended for David to hang those seven men, to continue the cycle of violence and retaliation.
I believe grace was restored because the king, moved by the courage, strength, and public witness of Rizpah, saw what he needed to do and did it. And when David speaks his psalm of thanksgiving, I see Rizpah’s influence: “God . . . took me out of deep waters, brought me to wide-open spaces because he is pleased with me . . . I have lived with integrity before him.” We can only imagine the depths of Rizpah’s grief over the killing of her sons, but she keeps watch for months on the hillside where they are hanging and, in so doing, honors her sons, herself, and the Lord.
Rizpah reminds me of the mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters we see every day who courageously speak out against the violence that has taken the lives of their loved ones. “We do not want them to have died in vain” we hear. People throughout our world, throughout history, live in fear and retaliation and like Rizpah are innocent victims caught in the larger, complex context of society.
For me, the stories of David and Rizpah reflect the futility of revenge, the strength and resolve required to maintain honor and integrity at life’s most vulnerable moments, and the necessity for all of us to acknowledge our sins so that we can come before the Lord our God with thanksgiving.
Help me today, O Lord, to be aware of people who approach the harshness in their lives with courage and purpose, to learn from them, to honor them, and, in so doing, to honor you. Amen.
Written by Barbara Cleveland, Executive Assistant to the Pastor
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