Daughters of Saul and Sons of Moses

Scripture Focus: Psalm 145.1-4
1 I will exalt you, my God the King; 
I will praise your name for ever and ever. 
2 Every day I will praise you 
and extol your name for ever and ever. 
3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; 
his greatness no one can fathom. 
4 One generation commends your works to another; 
they tell of your mighty acts.

1 Chronicles 15.29
29 As the ark of the covenant of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David dancing and celebrating, she despised him in her heart.

Luke 19.39-40
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Reflection: Daughters of Saul and Sons of Moses
By John Tillman

Yesterday, Palm Sunday, we celebrated Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem and the week leading to the crucifixion and resurrection. (Matthew 21.1–11; Mark 11.1–11; Luke 19.28–44; John 12.12–19)

Like David’s procession of the Ark of the Covenant entering Jerusalem, Jesus’ processional was met by a joyous crowd. In both cases, there were those who wanted to steal the joy of the moment.

Michal, daughter of Saul and wife of David, critiqued the celebration. (1 Chronicles 15.29) She claimed to be concerned about propriety and modesty, but David’s response implied that her moralizing concealed a concern about power. (2 Samuel 6.20-23) The daughter of Saul despised this lowly king.

Likewise, religious leaders objected to crowds singing about Jesus “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:25,26) They publicly voiced concerns about blasphemy but privately they were concerned about power. They didn’t want to upset Rome. (John 11.48) The sons of Moses despised this lowly teacher.

Psalm 105
is the Psalm listed in Chronicles as one David (or Asaph at David’s direction) sang on the occasion of the Ark’s entry. (1 Chronicles 16.7-11) However, despite Psalm 145 not having a date or event attached, one could certainly imagine its celebratory tone going well with the procession David led or the procession of Jesus the Son of David.

Those traveling up to Jerusalem would sing psalms on their ascent, preparing for and celebrating being in the presence of God. We can pray and sing these psalms with the same sense of anticipation. Jesus comes to us as he came to Jerusalem, humble and lowly. We can welcome him with shouts, cries, and joyous abandon that some will not understand.

Welcome him this week and every week as the only rightful king of our hearts. We must depose our affection for other Saul-like kings. We must abandon vestiges of religion which grasp at power rather than righteousness.

Do not let daughters of Saul or sons of Moses steal your joy in the lowly king, the humble teacher. Let us exalt him with pure praise and abandon. Let us ensure the next generation joins in with us.

“I will exalt you, my God the King; 
I will praise your name for ever and ever. 
Every day I will praise you 
and extol your name for ever and ever. 
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; 
his greatness no one can fathom. 
One generation commends your works to another; 
they tell of your mighty acts.”

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
…They cried out: “Blessed is he who is coming as King in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens!” Some Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Master, reprove your disciples,” but he answered, “I tell you, if these keep silence, the stones will cry out.” — Luke 19.37-40

Today’s Readings
Hosea 12  Listen – 1:51)
Psalm 145  (Listen -2:19)

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Hope in Mercy, Not Wrath — Hope of Advent

Scripture Focus: 1 Chronicles 29.15
15 We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.

2 Peter 3.9-10, 13-15
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation…

Reflection: Hope in Mercy, Not Wrath — Hope of Advent

By John Tillman

As David neared death, he acknowledged that life seemed to be “a shadow, without hope.”

We are not wrong, like David, to admit that the world is a dark place. The world is undeniably filled with wickedness, injustice, oppression, poverty, and violence. It is a lie to deny this darkness. What is more, we are the reason the earth is filled with darkness.

We are responsible for the shadows of hopelessness upon the world. We are responsible collectively and individually, historically and personally. For this reason, much of what we know and see of this world is destined for destruction and wrath. 

It can be tempting, especially when we are suffering, to put our hope in God’s wrath. David did this from time to time. (Psalm 69.22-28) When we hope in wrath, we wait impatiently. Every second that God’s fiery wrath is delayed, we doubt his love and justice.

It is just for God to destroy evil. It is also just that those who refuse to abandon evil and repent will perish along with it. Yet, it is hypocritical for those of us delivered from destruction only by the mercy of God to desire only destruction for our enemies.

For David and for us, setting our hope on God’s wrath is unfulfilling. In his life and art, David also clung to the hope of resurrection. In Psalm 16, David pointed to life beyond death and a hope that he would be in God’s presence and experience eternal pleasures.

Peter relied on David’s psalm in his Pentecost sermon, explaining that the hope David held was fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus. Later in Acts, Paul also argued that David’s psalm expressed hope in the resurrection of the messiah to come. (Acts 2.20-32; 13.32-41) In Peter’s second letter, he repeated and reinforced this theme.

The destruction of our enemies is a tempting image. Peter, however, counsels his readers in a different direction. These believers suffered under persecutions that most western Christians have never in history endured. Yet, Peter counseled the church not to despise God’s delay or despair during it.

As we wait during this advent and always, let us rend our hearts hoping for God’s mercy for sinners rather than wringing our hands savoring the thought that evildoers will suffer. 

As we wait, let our hope be in God’s mercy and patience. Every second he delays is salvation for sinners.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Let us make a vow to the Lord our God and keep it; let all around him bring gifts to him who is worthy to be feared. — Psalm 76.11
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Chronicles 29 (Listen – 5:50)
2 Peter 3 (Listen – 3:21)

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Renamed by God — Hope of Advent

Scripture Focus: 1 Chronicles 28.4-6
4 “Yet the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me from my whole family to be king over Israel forever. He chose Judah as leader, and from the tribe of Judah he chose my family, and from my father’s sons he was pleased to make me king over all Israel. 5 Of all my sons—and the Lord has given me many—he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. 6 He said to me: ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.

Reflection: Renamed by God — Hope of Advent

By John Tillman

Naming, in ancient cultures, was greatly important. Names were intended to remind children of who they were and to place them within the story of their family. Their names followed familial patterns and repeated names from the past.

Scripture usually calls Solomon by the name his father David gave him but God gave Solomon another name. God named him Jedidiah, which means “loved by the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12.25) God renamed Solomon because God claimed Solomon as his son and promised to be his father. 

Like Solomon, we have a mixed history. Our family patterns may include violence, lust, destruction, suffering, slavery, exile, or many other damaging and hurtful things. Names today are more often chosen simply by sound or for uniqueness with little meaning behind them. Modern legal names don’t tend to reflect our histories but those aren’t our only names, are they? 

We have other names that we have been called or that we call ourselves. Many of these names come from dark places or express our worst feelings and fears. Failure. Foolish. Ugly. Fat. Unworthy. Unloveable. Hopeless. These are haunting names all of us have heard at one time or another.

Our history or pain can “name” us. Naomi let bitterness change her name to “Mara.” Nebuchadnezzar forced Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to accept names reflecting Babylonian religion and culture. Rachel attached her own pain to her second son, naming him Ben-Oni or “son of my trouble.”

Those gathered after the birth of Zechariah and Elizabeth’s child did not take Elizabeth’s word that he would be called “John” because it didn’t fit the pattern of their history. When Zechariah confirmed it by writing, his tongue was loosed to prophesy. (Luke 1.59-66)

We don’t have to continue in life with the haunting names that fit our histories. Like Solomon, God has a new name for us. Our new identity is hidden in Christ and given to us as we are adopted by God. (Isaiah 56.5; Revelation 2.17)

New names bring us new hope. Christ’s name is to be called, “Wonderful counselor, the mighty God.” Like the shepherds who sought for him, we must seek him to live in the authority and power of our new name and our adoption as God’s children. Our new names will remind us of whose we are and where our place is within God’s story.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
I will bear witness that the Lord is righteous; I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High. — Psalm 7.18
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Chronicles 28 (Listen – 4:45)
2 Peter 2 (Listen – 3:52)

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When Skepticism meets Kindness

Scripture Focus: 1 Chronicles 19.3
“…the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Haven’t his envoys come to you only to explore and spy out the country and overthrow it?” 

Reflection: When Skepticism meets Kindness
By Erin Newton

Last week, I looked through the neighborhood Facebook page. Big mistake. Each post was an attack of one neighbor against another rooted mostly in suspicions. It makes you wonder, “Can we trust anyone to be good anymore?”

The account of David sending an envoy of peace and sympathy to the Ammonites as depicted in 1 Chronicles 19 is retold in the same manner as 2 Samuel 10. In both accounts, Hanun the Ammonite king scoffed at the gesture of sympathy and returned kindness with humiliation. David’s motives were scrutinized. Hanun repaid hate to the men who had come in the name of peace.

Sometimes we look at kindness and assume there is a scheme of self-promotion or self-preservation behind it all. We treat the servants of mercy as spies. We’ve created a world in which we are trained to “read the fine print” and always be on the lookout for some catch. We see something and immediately suspect nefarious activity behind it all.

Being on the receiving end of kindness can be awkward and uncomfortable. Honestly, there is little reason to be suspicious, but we are sorely out of practice. Five years ago, I had premature twins with severe medical conditions and had to quickly learn how to be served without the nagging feeling that I would have to repay that kindness. We learn all about serving others but being served is a lost art.

More than anything, we doubt the sincerity of God’s gift of mercy. The Man who came in peace was treated like a criminal, humiliated and mocked. Jesus came in peace but was received with skepticism. The seed of sin taunts his free gift, “Did he really say that?” Just as the first sin entered the world, we struggle against doubting the motive of mercy.

Out of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). We struggle to humbly receive God’s grace because we cannot fathom being so gracious to others. We return kindness with ingratitude because we assume we have been placed in someone’s debt. We try to do something in return because our pride wants to even the score.

We are entering into a season marked by giving. The King’s envoy of peace has come. Let us sit under the weight of God’s mercy, utterly helpless to repay anything, and be at peace.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 107)

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
I will bear witness that the Lord is righteous; I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High. — Psalm 7.18

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Chronicles 19-20 (Listen – 5:02)
1 Peter 1 (Listen – 3:53)

Thanksgiving Day Readings
1 Chronicles 21 (Listen – 5:03)
1 Peter 2 (Listen – 3:48)

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Missing the Son of David

Scripture Focus: 1 Chronicles 18.14
14 David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. 

Reflection: Missing the Son of David
By John Tillman

David is described as doing what is “just and right for all his people.” This does not mean that the author is in denial about David’s errors and human mistakes. The writer is speaking in generalities but is also speaking of David as a model of a ruler to come. 

Soon, we will enter the season of Advent, in which we await the coming reign of the Son of David. Jesus is this ruler we are looking for. He will bring a kingdom with justice and righteousness for all his people.

We have written before about justice and righteousness. Justice, or mishpat, is the law being upheld. Righteousness, or sedeq, implies the actions that uphold it. At times, sedeq is even translated as “justice.” The accomplishment of justice is righteousness and righteousness accomplishes justice. To advocate for one and deny the other is like claiming fire is cold or ice is hot.

Many looked and longed for justice and righteousness that they believed would come with the Son of David. Many of those same people missed Jesus when he came. They were looking for something else.

They looked for wealth and status. They missed him because he was poor. They looked for political empowerment and military might. They missed him because he eschewed power. They looked for violent overthrow. They missed him because he chose non-violence.

As we read the gospels, we need to examine the descriptions Jesus gives of his kingdom. We have the benefit of hindsight. We can see what the religious leaders should have seen. As we notice their blind spots, we should think about our own.

What type of righteousness and justice are we looking for from the Son of David? Are we looking for the right things? Could we miss him because we are focusing on the wrong qualities?

Like the two blind men, and the foreign demoniac’s mother, let us call out to the Son of David to save us using this prayer based on our reading from James 5.1-6:

Make us generous so that no worker would cry against us…
And our lives would not be fattened with luxuries…
Make us a shield that covers the innocent…
Make us a sword that cuts free the oppressed…
Lord, clothe us in your righteousness…
May our footprints leave justice behind us.
May we be true Sons and Daughters of David.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Morning Psalm
The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.
The righteous cry, and the Lord hears them and delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and will save those whose spirits are crushed.
Many are the troubles of the righteous, but the Lord will deliver him out of them all.
He will keep safe all his bones; not one of them shall be broken. — Psalm 34.15-20

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Chronicles 18 (Listen – 2:36)
James 5 (Listen – 3:01)

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