Giants (aka mighty dual-ism)

October 26, 2016

Do we ever feel like grasshoppers compared to our big government, big banks, big pharma, or any other big problems that we might encounter? What is the symbolism of these giant mixtures of good and evil, the semi-metaphysical, the semi-pure?  Mingling material and spiritual may lead to “mighty” conflicts in our life; and pardon the pun, some mighty dual-ism (duel-ism).

We’ve all heard about Goliath, but were there other giants in the Bible? Remember the giants who scared the children of Israel away from the Promised Land?  Have you heard of the famous Og, the king of Bashan, whose 13 foot long iron bed became a tourist attraction in Ammon?  What about the four sons of the giant in Gath, all of whom were killed by King David’s family and servants?

I remember in Sunday School wondering about those “five smooth stones” David selected from a brook before battling Goliath. He only used one stone, so what purpose were the others? Then in preparing these readings, I discovered there were four more giants which adds up to five giants conquered by five weapons of truth (or stones or swords). That is a very cool connection for a precocious Sunday School class!

In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy writes of the five erroneous postulates and of the five physical senses as the basis of pantheism. Pantheism is defined in the Webster 1828 Dictionary as “the doctrine that the universe is God”; a contemporary definition is that the Universe and God are identical. According to the son of science educator Carl Sagan: “My father believed in the God of Spinoza and Einstein, God not behind nature, but as nature, equivalent to it” (Pantheism in Wikipedia).

I have a much better understanding of this subject in Christian Science after reading this article by Helen Wood Bauman:

The denial of error is essential in the healing method of Christian Science. And the basic claim of error, or mortal mind, the claim that needs the most thorough and emphatic denial, is pantheism—the belief that life and intelligence arise from and depend upon matter. Until this belief, which is so deeply embedded in human thought, is understood as unreal, as sheer delusion, the healing of sickness and sin is likely to be protracted or unfinished. . . .

Mary Baker Eddy denied again and again the belief of pantheism. In fact, she made the first sentence in the vastly important “scientific statement of being” such a denial. This statement is found on page 468 of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” and the beginning sentence reads, “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter.”

To believe that the use of this first sentence should be avoided in the practice of Christian healing is to believe that one of the most powerful arguments in such healing should be discarded. The importance of this denial of pantheism is shown in the position it is given in “the scientific statement of being.” One sometimes hears that it is wrong to use this first sentence at the time of the birth of a child. Nothing could be farther from the fact. One who denies pantheism for the new infant is starting him off in human life with a definite release from the binding error that he is dependent upon flesh for his life, his substance, and his intelligence. (The Denial of Error” by Helen Wood Bauman, from the December 21, 1963 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel).

Wow! I had never thought about the Scientific Statement of Being as such a powerful denial of pantheism and what a reminder that the child we see physically is never the child that God sees. That is definitely a blow to error — the fire melting the frost.

On page 269 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy capitalized Pandemonium, which is the demon-filled capital of hell in John Milton’s poem Paradise Lost. (Yes, Mrs. Eddy has other quotes from Paradise Lost, and I’ve included a painting of Pandemonium on the research page.)

Here is some research on the Rephaim or giants:

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


ref’-a-im, re-fa’-im (repha’-im, from rapha’, “a terrible one “hence “giant,” in 1 Chronicles 20:4, . . ., “sons of the giant”; the King James Version, Rephaims): A race of aboriginal or early inhabitants East of the Jordan in Ashterothkarnaim (Genesis 14:5) and in the valley of Rephaim Southwest of Jerusalem (Joshua 15:8). They associated with other giant races, as the Emim and Anakim (Deuteronomy 2:10, 11) and the Zamzummim (Deuteronomy 2:20). It is probable that they were all of the same stock, being given different names by the different tribes who came in contact with them. The same Hebrew word is rendered “the dead,” or “the shades” in various passages . . . In these instances the word is derived from rapheh, “weak,” “powerless,” “a shadow” or “shade.”


. . . This was a fertile vale (Isaiah 17:5), to the Southwest of Jerusalem (Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16; the King James Version “Valley of the Giants”), on the border between Judah and Benjamin. Here David repeatedly defeated the invading Philistines (2 Samuel 5:18, 22; 2 Samuel 23:13 1 Chronicles 11:15; 1 Chronicles 14:9). It is located by Josephus between Jerusalem and Bethlehem (Ant., VII, iv, i; xii, 4). It corresponds to the modern el-Biqa`, which falls away to the Southwest from the lip of the valley of Hinnom. The name in ancient times may perhaps have covered a larger area, including practically all the land between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, where the head-waters of Nahr Ruben are collected.  Click here for a good map:

So, David as a shepherd boy was in a land of giants. No wonder he needed to be prepared with five stones!

The mingling of material and spiritual left the Israelites with an illusion of giant problems. Yet, God multiplied the Hebrews after a generation in the wilderness so that they could cast out the giants when they finally entered the Promised Land; and David’s government matured to conquer the remaining giants roaming his kingdom. With the Christ (Caleb/Judah) and the Comforter (Joshua/Ephraim), we cannot fail to fulfill the promise!

“Elect Angels”

October 19, 2016

Don’t you love the title of this Wednesday’s readings? It is a quote from I Timothy 5:21, and it makes me think differently about this presidential election.  I’ve included a poem and some Sentinel articles on the research page which are also very helpful for these elections. Here is John Randall Dunn’s definition of “God’s elect”:

Who are the elect but they who elect to think rightly—to reflect God, Love, Principle? The right thinkers, those who elect and strive to be spiritually-minded, are therefore the hope of the race. Theirs is the privilege of uncovering and annulling the secret efforts of mental suggestion to befuddle and control thought, to keep in darkness through mass hypnotism men and nations. It is their privilege and duty to halt mortal mind outrages and atrocities through the understanding that the Lord God omnipotent reigns, and that there is no Mind but His; to know that Love is and cold barbarism is not; to know that God’s kingdom, the reign of harmonious being, is come, and that evil, war, hate, greed, misunderstandings, minds many, and all the etceteras of hell and suppositional demons, are nought but phantoms of the night, and therefore are not happening in the realm of Truth. (“Look up, and lift up your heads,” by John Randall Dunn from the April 20, 1940 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel)

I also appreciated this article on “Saying goodbye” which was addressing the sadness of divorces, moving on, passing on, but which could also apply to the time after an election when a preferred candidate doesn’t win. James Robert Blunt wrote:

Pray over relationships until you can honestly give everyone his or her proper name: God’s elect, His very own child, image, likeness, or idea. Nothing can impede our spiritual progress—not even our own or others’ false classifications. Mrs. Eddy clearly spells out the requirements for all healing in this concise statement: “To live so as to keep human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal, is to individualize infinite power; and this is Christian Science.” (“Saying goodbye,” by James Robert Blunt from the September 20, 1982 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel)

The Second Epistle of John is dedicated to the “elect lady.” No, I am not predicting an election outcome; “elect lady” is a reference to a local church. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 2146)

At the end of the readings are some of Mrs. Eddy’s prayers about government found in Prose Works. There have also been some helpful short podcasts (under 10 minutes) on Sentinel Watch about prayerfully supporting the upcoming elections and which you may access here:

I would love to hear your angel-messages on this topic. Please share online (via the reply button) or in person at our Wednesday meeting.

Help Meets

October 12, 2016

These Bible readings were selected last week — before the emotions unleashed over the past few days. When I was preparing these readings, I was tempted to skip over three obscure verses in Exodus because of the raw anger expressed in that story, yet that “hardness of heart” is so timely, how can I leave it out? Now back to the blog I had written originally.


Mary Baker Eddy quoted this poem in her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection:

Ask God to give thee skill

In comfort’s art:

That thou may’st consecrated be

And set apart

Unto a life of sympathy.

For heavy is the weight of ill

In every heart;

And comforters are needed much

Of Christlike touch. (Ret. 95:4)

Who are our comforters? Who are our help meets? Is it our spouses, our family, our friends, communing with nature, good laws, the judicial system, a Good Samaritan?

The Bible always seems so conflicted about women — are we help meets or not?  These three verses in Exodus (Ex. 4:24-26) truly highlight how differently Bible scholars will characterize women. (When I told my husband about these verses, he complained, “I don’t hear Joel Osteen talking about that!” Yes, the events are gory, but the subject is really about interfaith marriages, divorce, hardness of heart, and the role of women as helpers or hinderances.)

In summary, the male Hebrews in Egypt were all identifiable due to the covenant of circumcision, yet at least one of Moses’ sons born in Midian was not circumcised. On the way to Egypt, Zipporah, the pagan daughter of a priest, performed the ritual, which apparently saved Moses’ life as the Lord “met him and sought to kill him.” Zipporah and sons were then sent away, so she becomes either a divorced ungodly character or an heroine, depending on which commentator you read. For example, here is the traditional view from a commentary on Bible Gateway:

Zipporah, as a woman of Midian, did not share the spiritual values of her notable husband who found himself acting against the sacred tradition of Israel. This may be one reason why he named his second son Eliezer, meaning “The Lord of my father was my help.” To keep the peace, Moses compromised with his unbelieving wife and withheld circumcision, the sign of God’s covenant, from Eliezer. The Lord intervened, and as a sign of divine displeasure, Moses is stricken with a mortal disease. Both Zipporah and Moses became conscience-stricken over the profanation of God’s covenant, and Zipporah yields. Moses is too prostrate to take a knife and circumcize the child, so his wife severed the boy’s foreskin and, throwing it down before Moses said, “Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.”

When Moses was restored to health, relations in the home were not congenial, for he went on alone to Egypt, and Zipporah and the two sons went back to her home in Midian. Of this unhappy incident, Alexander Whyte says, “There are three most obscure and most mysterious verses in Moses’ history that mean, if they mean anything at all to us, just such an explosion of ill-temper as must have left its mark till death on the heart of Moses and Zipporah…When Moses became the mighty leader and law-giver of Israel, there was the episode when Jethro, his father-in-law came out to the wilderness to see Moses and brought with him Zipporah and the two sons. The union was devoid of any restraint for Moses graciously received them and neither disowned nor ignored his wife and sons. But after this visit during which Jethro gave his over-burdened son-in-law some very practical advice, nothing more is said of Zipporah. She disappears without comment from the history of the Jewish people in which her husband figured so prominently. “Neither as the wife of her husband nor as the mother of her children did she leave behind her a legacy of spiritual riches.” How different it would have been if only she had fully shared her husband’s unusual meekness and godliness and, like him, left behind footprints in the sands of time!

Now, here is a more contemporary spin from U. S. News:

Zipporah plays more than a supporting role in the future of the Israelites. … Moses is at risk of losing his life, except for the intervention of Zipporah. The entire fate of Israel rests with her. She, the pagan daughter of a priest, stood up to God….

The story may also be saying that marriage to foreigners can be a good idea and work out well and that, within the family structure, women may be more active in the religious sphere than men. …

A new novel, Zipporah, Wife of Moses, by Marek Halter, puts a fictionalized spin on Zipporah by making her the “Cushite” or Ethiopian wife of Moses. Halter portrays Zipporah as a proud, black-skinned woman who refuses to marry Moses, even after bearing his two sons, until he accepts God’s mission to lead his people out of slavery. In this version, it’s Zipporah who changes the destiny of Moses and his people. “Zipporah is black, and a foreigner, and she poses the problem of how we relate to the other,” says Halter. “Moses is ignorant, so Zipporah becomes his principal adviser.” Zipporah, the outsider with black skin, helps Moses fulfill his destiny as a liberator of the enslaved.

Who do you think was the real Zipporah? And was Moses’ severed relationship with Zipporah the “hardness of heart” that Jesus referred to when the Pharisees asked about Moses’ law of divorce?

If we are to be as merciful as the Good Samaritan, helping strangers; then what kind of help meets should we be for our spouses, our closest friends? What about relatives, fellow church members, friends, and others? First, Moses’ wife was his help meet, and later he relied on assistants under the advice of his father-in-law. But really God was always his Help Meet and Comforter, his ever friend whom he knew “face to face.”

Does Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, remind you of a type of Melchizedek? According to my Wikipedia search, Jethro was a “revered chief prophet in the Druze religion.  The Druze believe Jethro was a ‘hidden’ and ‘true prophet’ who communicated directly with God and then passed on that knowledge to Moses.” What an example Jethro provides of hospitality and Universal Love everywhere, undivorced from truth!

Here are some Bible notes:

Exodus 2:15 – Midian, probably in northwest Arabia. The Midianites, said to be descendants of Abraham and Keturah (Gen 25:2), were caravans whose routes stretched across Sinai to southern Palestine. Moses meets his future wife at a well, a pattern appearing in the stories of Rebekah (Gen 24) and Rachel (Gen 29).

Exodus 2:16 – Seven daughters, making a total of twelve female figures featured in the life of Moses, the deliverer of the twelve tribes.

Exodus 4:20 – Moses’ staff, which he used as a shepherd, has now become the staff of God, the instrument through which he and Aaron exert divine power. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, pages 84, 85, 88)

David and Absalom – In the House of Love forever

October 5th, 2016

This Wednesday, we are finishing our series on King David, including finding some of David’s connections with the New Testament and with our textbook, Science and Health.  Have you noticed that Mrs. Eddy begins and ends the text of her book with a shepherd (p. vii) and a Psalm (p. 578)?  Throughout the triumphs and trials of his kingdom, David continued to sing his psalms of mercy and joy in the Lord — a joy that wasn’t the result of a supply of wants, but a joy having its source in God Himself.

Here are some Bible notes:

II Samuel 19:20 – House of Joseph, the northern tribes, Israel, as opposed to Judah.

II Samuel 19:25-30 – Ziba had accused Mephibosheth of plotting to take the throne. Mephibosheth here defends himself, saying that Ziba refused to help him to flee with David, and he could not leave on his own accord because of his physical condition. David’s decision indicates that he does not know which of them is telling the truth. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 474.)

Who do you think was telling the truth — Ziba, the servant; or Mephibosheth, the grandson of the anointed King Saul from the tribe of Benjamin? David told them to divide the land between them.  Did young King Solomon use a similar strategy when faced with two women — both claiming to be the mother of the same baby? If the true mother wouldn’t let Solomon divide the baby, then who might be the rightful owner of Saul’s land?   (I didn’t find this comparison in any commentary, although most scholars believe Mephibosheth’s affection was for his master, not for his property.)

Did a New Testament Saul, also from the tribe of Benjamin, originally choose the side that persecuted the Anointed One? Did this Saul let a “thorn in his side” stop him from claiming his place at the King’s table?  (The Bible doesn’t state exactly what Paul’s thorn was — some commentators think it might have been something physical such as poor eyesight; others think it was a strictly emotional battle over guilt which is why he writes so much on grace.)

We need the enthusiastic Pauls in our midst. Paul knew no borders in his outreach — geographic or cultural or religious. In my Bible study, I have really begun to see Paul as a symbol of the Comforter because, despite the thorn in his side, he was always “earnestly striving” to give birth to the real spiritual man. I think having that grace to see the real man in yourself and others is the true “primitive Christianity” desired in our Manual of The Mother Church (page 17).

Does anyone have anything to share from our study of David? There is a “leave a reply” link at the bottom of this blog, so I’d love to receive a response from those who have been reading along!

David and Absalom – Finding the Comfort and the Christ in Crisis

September 21, 2016

During our Wednesday services, we’ve been studying the shepherd-king David in all his glory, but now there are challenging times in his kingdom, which began with his own household. David has been forced out of Jerusalem by his son Absalom, and so he has retreated to mourn at Mount Olivet, known in the New Testament as the Mount of Olives. These readings include how David responded to his betrayal, including his own words from the psalms he wrote during this experience.

Are you spotting more similarities between David and Jesus?  David’s son betrayed him; an enemy cursed him and threw stones at him; and lame Mephibosheth, whom David had taken into his own home, appeared disloyal. Throughout this ordeal, David continued to express mercy, a quality so clear in Jesus that he was called “the son of David.”

Another similarity which is not as obvious is that one of David’s priests was called Zadok.  Melchizedek, king of Salem (ancient Jerusalem) brought bread and wine to Abraham, since Melchizedek was the priest of the most high God (Genesis 14:18). Then in Hebrews, Jesus is described as being “a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 7:17).  (We actually did a Wednesday service on “Melchizedek? Melchisedec Who?”, and I like thinking of Daniel’s Zadok as providing a holy connection between the Old and New Testament priesthood.)

Both Jesus and David had gloomy nights on Mount Olive, but Jesus’ disciples slept. David’s household was awake and weeping with him, and different friends nourished David  and his mighty men.  In our Time for Thinkers Book Club, we’ve asked:  If Jesus’ disciples had been awake and supporting him in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, with all they had learned, would they have brought in the millennium? (Science and Health, p. 34)  David taught us mercy, but Jesus’ lessons were so much more!!

In our next readings, we will find out if Ziba was lying about Mephibosheth, if the cursing stone thrower reforms, and if David regains his kingdom. My husband thinks this is all quite the soap opera, so you will have to stay tuned in!

If you are wondering why I am spending so much time on David, here is an interesting article by William McCrackan from the December 1916 Christian Science Journal where he wrote, “Metaphysically considered, Christian Scientists are entitled to consider themselves direct descendants in the royal line of David. . .” and then he compared the “key of David” to our own “key to the Scriptures.” (Science and Health, p. 499, which has Revelation’s quote about the key of David). I’ve learned so many lessons from studying David which have opened up the Scriptures for me, and I’d love to hear your inspiration as well!

David and Absalom – Train up a child

September 14, 2016

We all know the story of David and Bathsheba, but what happened afterwards? Did David use his own moral failure as a teaching moment for his own sons and daughters, or was this a case of “sour grapes, setting his own children’s teeth on edge?” Here is Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of that saying:

God’s Message to me: “What do you people mean by going around the country repeating the saying,

The parents ate green apples,

The children got the stomachache?

“As sure as I’m the living God, you’re not going to repeat this saying in Israel any longer. Every soul—man, woman, child—belongs to me, parent and child alike. You die for your own sin, not another’s. Ezekiel 18:1-4 The Message

Here are some Bible notes on the story of Amnon and Tamar:

13.1 Tamar was Absalom’s full sister, Amnon’s half-sister. Amnon was David’s oldest son and the crown prince. The next oldest had apparently died (perhaps as a child), leaving Absalom as second in line of succession to the throne.

13.12 “Such a thing” may refer to incest or rape or both.

13.13 “He will not withhold me from you,” Tamar suggests that David would allow their marriage despite its incestuous nature. Perhaps she is just trying to buy time.

13:16 Ex. 22:16 and Deut. 22:28-29 required marriage in such cases. Tamar may have such laws in mind when she says that in sending her away Amnon is committing a greater wrong that the rape itself.

13:17 “This woman,” a contemptuous reference. The word “woman” is not in the Hebrew, so that it might be translated “this thing.” Having robbed Tamar of her virginity, Amnon takes her identity as well.

13:18 “A long robe with sleeves,” used also for Joseph’s garment in Gen. 37:3. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, pages 462-463)

In the King James Version, Tamar is wearing a “garment of divers colours” as the king’s daughter, which of course made me think of Joseph’s coat of many colors from his father.

Should David have trained up his son to express morality to women, especially since David had experienced that lesson himself?  And after the rape of Tamar occurred, why didn’t David at least follow the Old Testament rules and discipline his son Amnon?

In the story of David and Bathsheba, Nathan tells David a story to uncover his sin; and in today’s readings, Joab uses a widow to tell David a story about a blood feud which started when one of her sons killed his brother. David knew it was Joab’s words, perhaps because Joab had learned this revenge lesson himself when he killed Abner for killing his brother (last week’s readings).

The Bible readings end with a psalm written by David when he fled from his son Absalom for stealing the kingdom. David sang:

Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.

Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. (Psalm 3:7,8)

In other words, “God striking the enemies on the mouth for their words is poetic justice, punishment fitting the crime. The psalmist, however, leaves the actual punishment to God.” (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, page 777)

The third tenet is so helpful in understanding that this “belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts.” (Science and Health, page 497)

David – Using Wisdom or Playing the Fool

September 7, 2016

We’ve all been warned about “playing the fool,” and one of the Bible’s most famous examples of an apparent lack of common sense is an Old Testament character named Abner who died “as a fool dieth” according to King David. Abner foolishly took a fatal misstep, so our service this Wednesday is on “using wisdom” as our parents warned us, or in the words of Jesus, “wisdom is justified of her children” (Luke 7:35).  In other words,

“CS stands for Common Sense,” Bessie McLoon


“Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”  Eugene Peterson, The Message


“Time tells all stories true,” Allison Phinney, Jr., The Christian Science Sentinel


“Wisdom is known by its fruits. Look at the results to see if you made the right decision.” Colleen Moore’s paraphrase from reading the wise words above!

Abner made some foolish decisions, and here are some Bible notes to help you understand his story:

2 Samuel 3:7-8 “To sleep with a member of the royal harem was to claim the throne. Hence, Ishbaal’s question is tantamount to an accusation of treason. A dog’s head, used only here in the Bible, this expression is obviously reproachful, but its origin is unknown, although comparison to a dog or a dead dog is a frequent form of self-depreciation. Abner does not deny Ishbaal’s accusation but is contemptuous. Although the power is his, he has been loyal to Ishbaal.” (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 449)

Hebron is one of the seven cities of refuge in Joshua 20:7.

“The towns of asylum provided the right of asylum for someone who committed involuntary manslaughter until the case was adjudicated. . . .The right of asylum helped to limit the social damage of unrestrained blood vengeance or feuding, especially  important in a tribal context. . . .The avenger of blood was the deceased’s nearest relative. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 348)

There were dozens of sermons online about Abner playing the fool, and there is a correlated story in Miscellaneous Writings about a New England worker who was played a fool. Mrs. Eddy’s anecdote is included at the end of the readings, but in summary, a practical joker at her brother’s mill had asked a new hire to “tend the regulator” by unnecessarily pouring a bucket of water every ten minutes on the regulator which controlled the machinery. Mrs. Eddy commented,

“Some people try to tend folks, as if they should steer the regulator of mankind. God makes us pay for tending the action that He adjusts.” (“Fallibility of Human Concepts,” Mis. p. 353)

So, not only did Abner foolishly start a game with enemies which resulted in a brawl, killing Joab’s brother; then foolishly stepped outside of the sanctuary city with Joab; but he also foolishly tried to meddle with arranging David’s kingdom when God already had everything under control! There is certainly wisdom in unity, but this story warns us that it should be directed by God (as David was patiently learning) instead of outlined by man (Abner’s foolish mistake).

In this same article, Mrs. Eddy lists six attitudes which many have found wise to follow in their lives:

“A little more grace, a motive made pure, a few truths tenderly told, a heart softened, a character subdued, a life consecrated, would restore the right action of the mental mechanism, and make manifest the movement of body and soul in accord with God.” (Mis. p. 354)

Have you noticed the symbolism of David becoming king over a unified Israel at age 30? Was David the first “lion and the lamb,” because he symbolized the lion of the southern tribe of Judah, and lovingly shepherded the northern tribes to unite and become one flock? Did you spot the symbolism of the two witnesses, the Christ from Judah; and the Comforter from the northern tribes of Israel (such as the tribes of Benjamin and Gad, and Joseph’s tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh)?


David – Meeting the human need

August 31, 2016

The readings today overlap with last week’s time period because the first Bible story occurs in the chapter before King Saul’s death, and the next Bible story is about Jonathan’s son.

The story about David’s pursuit and smiting of the Amalekites reminded me of a recent discussion we had in our Time for Thinkers Book Club. One of the participants was asking about the use of military force, and our Book Club moderator told the story of “Joseph Campbell’s Samurai Tale,” the issue being whether you were fighting to fulfill a duty to your king and country or to fulfill a personal act of anger or revenge. In David’s story, the wives and children of David’s village have been captured, but David still asks God first whether he should pursue the enemy.  It wasn’t David’s personal emotions that were controlling his actions, but a perceived higher direction.

Another reason why I really like this story about David and the Amalekites is that it reminds me of the best rules of youth sports. In the Bible story, some of David’s men became so fatigued that they had to wait with the supplies. The more agile warriors who went into battle and were victorious didn’t want to share the resulting bounty, but David ruled that all his men were to have part in the victory just the same. Yes, everybody on the team gets a trophy, even if you’re sitting on the bench!

David took care of his lambs, whether it was the women and children captured by enemies or the lame son of his friend Jonathan. Inviting Mephibosheth to the king’s table was a first inclusive step until the Christ’s healing power became more evident in the New Testament.

There is a baffling paragraph in Science and Health about the short lives of spiritual thinkers (p. 387:13). To help with my understanding, I appreciated this paraphrase from an article about “Prayer that covers the bases”:

It seems the world has an inclination to sort of throw people off a cliff when they’re doing the thinking that could actually help the world. This suffering of good people is not some kind of command from God. On the contrary, it is mortal belief in the power of error or evil that would cause sensitive thinkers to suffer. The troubles of the world would particularly shake up those who are not necessarily playing along with those troubles. And so, spiritual thinkers would do well to pay attention. We free ourselves from evil or error as we pray to deny it any place in life. And God empowers us to do just that. (“Prayer that covers the bases,” Curtis Wahlberg, Christian Science Sentinel, November 15, 2010)

David – Eternal Friendship

August 24, 2016

Jonathan, the son of Saul, Israel’s king, considered David a friend, as did Israel’s enemy, Achish, the Philistine king.  How did David become a friend without borders — a friend to all kinds of people, including those with different backgrounds, different religions, and different nationalities?

It is a timely lesson during this season of Olympic friendships and rivalries, so I’ve included a link to a story provided by the World War II Museum about the friendship between a German track star and Jessie Owen. I admit that I didn’t know about Luz Long congratulating an African-American in front of Hitler in the 1936 Olympics, and Long’s final letter before being killed in World War II is truly inspirational.  Yes, we do have our contemporary “Jonathans” who remain friends despite politics and governments.

I am backtracking this week so we can read the whole story of David’s friendship with Jonathan which begins after David kills Goliath. In I Samuel 17, King Saul doesn’t recognize David although in the preceding chapter, David tries on Saul’s armor and gets Saul’s permission to battle Goliath. According to the notes in The New Oxford Annotated Bible, two versions of the David and Goliath story have been combined. On another level, Saul is becoming blind with jealousy toward David, beginning with David’s slaying of Goliath.

Earlier this week a church member mentioned to me how some Bible scholars and archeologists question the existence of the Bible characters and history we love so well.  Mrs. Eddy gave a succinct response to a similar question asked of her about the existence of Christ Jesus:

“I do not find my authority for Christian Science in history, but in revelation. If there had never existed such a person as the Galilean Prophet, it would make no difference to me. I should still know that God’s spiritual ideal is the only real man in His image and likeness.” (Miscellany, p. 318-319)

In today’s readings, Mrs. Eddy questions the existence of Virgil, one of our classic figures whom she may have considered a spiritual friend and guide.

“Chaucer wrote centuries ago, yet we still read his thought in his verse. What is classic study, but discernment of the minds of Homer and Virgil, of whose personal existence we may be in doubt?” (Science and Health, p. 82)

There is some background on this question in the podcast, “Mary Baker Eddy Mentioned Chaucer, Homer, and Virgil,” which discusses literature’s mixture of fact and fiction (such as putting an historical figure such as Virgil into a fictional story), and which you can hear in the final minutes of a link included on the readings and resource page.  (I happened to see a new movie trailer with Tom Hanks based on Dante’s Inferno; I think poor Tom is acting like Dante’s Virgil, so that’s a great example of muddling facts-and-fiction, or actually fiction-and-fiction in the movies!)

When I was preparing these readings, it occurred to me that Mrs. Eddy had spent so much time with her Bible, reading and pondering it, that the Bible heroes became her friends. “We think of an absent friend as easily as we do of one present” (Science and Health, p. 82). It is wonderful to know the Bible so well — its contents and its characters — that it becomes your Friend.  When the inspired Word guides us to eternal Life, then that is a real “past, present, and future” transfiguration moment for us!

David – God as My Refuge

August 10, 2016

I love finding similarities between the events in the lives of Jesus and David.  Jesus could pass through an angry mob ready to stone him, and David was hidden from King Saul although others could easily find him.  It was as if David was wearing an invisibility cloak protecting him from Saul, or “clad in the panoply of Love” as described by another female author (Science and Health, p. 571). Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “panoply” as “complete armor or defense,” and the psalms this week speak of God as a refuge and fortress, enclosing you in safety.

You might also spot some similarities between Saul and John the Baptist.  Included on the readings page is a link with photos of the rugged terrain beyond Jordan where John baptized and Jesus escaped (John 10:40).

What about the questions asked by David (Are you pursuing a dead dog, a flea?) and Jesus (Were you expecting to see John, a reed shaken by the wind?) These questions highlighted that the missions of David and John were not insignificant. Mrs. Eddy repeated this question:

“What went ye out for to see?” A person, or a Principle? Whichever it be, determines the right or the wrong of this following” (My. 117:3).

Here are some Bible notes to help with the stories:

I Samuel 23:28 – The name of this place means either “Rock of Escape” or “Rock of Division.”

I Samuel 24:3 – Saul went in to relieve himself, literally “to cover his feet,” a denigrating portrayal of a king.

I Samuel 24:7 – David’s cutting off Saul’s hem is symbolic for emasculation or usurpation of Saul’s kingdom, which is why David’s conscience bothers him. To attack the Lord’s anointed (Saul) was to attack the Lord.  (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version, p. 435)

I had some evidence of the One Mind last Wednesday when I came home from our church service. I was skimming through my FaceBook posts and saw a youtube video shared by Alex Cook, a musician who has performed at our church — both in person and frequently on Sunday’s CDs. Alex was posting a link about a Boys Club in Detroit called the Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy, and our readings last Wednesday included the time David spent in Israel’s Cave of Adullam. I always like to read how people apply Bible stories to their own lives, so here’s the link on how this inner city Boys Club has made the Cave of Adullam a contemporary tale: