Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Scratching the Surface of 1&2 Samuel
Scratching the Surface of 1 & 2 Samuel
A friend sent a paradoxical parable to me:
A man who was traveling came upon a farmer working
in his field and asked him what the people in the next
village were like.
The farmer asked, "What were the people like in the
last village you visited?"
The man responded, "They were kind, friendly,
generous, great people."
"You'll find the people in the next village are the
same," said the farmer.
Another man who was traveling to the same
village came upon the same farmer somewhat
later and asked him what the people in the next
village were like.
Again, the farmer asked, "What were the people
like in the last village you visited?"
The second man responded, "They were rude,
unfriendly, dishonest people."
"You'll find the people in the next village are
the same," said the farmer.
It's the same with poems, books, movies, sermons, and every other form of verbal and non-verbal communications.
People see, experience, and report what they see and experience differently.
The same things are seen, experienced, and reported through different lenses.
While contradiction doesn't seem consistent with truth, people often confuse truth with auto-suggestion.
I'm reminded of the woman who always complained to me about negativity in the church while being the poster child of negativity in the church, the couple who always complained about not having enough young people in the church but left the church when we changed our order of worship and music to attract more young people, and...
There are countless illustrations of humanity's paradoxical nature.
When it comes to God, there is God as revealed in Jesus and Holy Scripture and God as reflected in the mirror: "So man created God in his image. In the image of man, man created God."
There is truth and what we sometimes pretend, pass on, or pose as truth that often is only coincidental to truth as revealed in Jesus and Holy Scripture.
1 & 2 Samuel illustrate how the paradox can be crippling if not corrected.
Saul had credentials, David had stones, and both were sooooooo human.
In one of those be-careful-what-you-wish-for-because-you-may-get-it things, God's people wanted a king so they could be like other people; forgetting, ignoring, and defying the truth that God's people were "created in His image" to be counter-popular-culture or God's people no matter who, what, where, when, or why. Or as Paul explained the distinguishable character of God's people from others, "Do not allow this world to mold you in its image. Instead, be transformed...discern what God wills..."
Though Samuel warned about wanting kings who take from us more than worshipping, obeying, and relying upon God who gives to us, they got what they wished for in a king who became an early example of Paul's understanding of the paradoxical nature of humanity: "I do not do the good that I want to do. I do the bad that I do not want to do. That's why I need a Savior."
Saul looked sooooooo good and had sooooooo many human credentials to lead as a king; but he was still sooooooo human and often confused God with the reflection in the mirror: "I took matters into my own hands." The verdict from God through Samuel was not paradoxical because God is not: "That was a foolish thing."
David had stones - rock solid faith. That's how he became a giant slayer and the greatest king in Israel's history. He wrote songs/psalms about his deference to God in all things. Yet he shared paradoxical humanity with Saul, Paul, you, me, and everybody else who has ever breathed: "I was guilty from the day I was born."
Though he had a heart for God and really, really, really wanted to honor God, he did terribly dishonorable things as a peeping Tom, adulterer, murderer, and...
The good news in the bad news is David knew he had sinned, was sinning, and would sin. He was an early example of the formula for seeing, experiencing, and reporting God's forgiveness: "If we confess our sins, God will forgive us."
That's why anyone who says grace isn't a part of the Hebrew Scriptures has not read the Hebrew Scriptures!
Though flawed, David was faithful within the realities of humanity's paradoxical nature; and he was forgiven and served God as the most distinguished king in His story.
Anyone who has scratched the surface of Holy Scripture to scratch the surface of an authentic relationship with Jesus knows God's formula for faithfulness, forgiveness, and a blessed future with Him in Samuel is consistent throughout the Bible: "Those who honor Me, I will honor; but people who choose to despise Me, I, in turn, will consider contemptible...Devote yourselves to God alone, and He will save you."
The paradoxical nature of humanity brings a few lyrics from Bob Dylan to mind: "You gotta serve somebody. It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you're gonna serve..."
King of kings?
It's the most important decision of all in the end.
...to be continued...
Blessings and Love!