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)