16 May 2010

May 16

Reference links:
Old Testament

Today we continue the story of David. That should not be too surprising because what we will be doing for awhile. The locus of attention has shifted from Saul to David.

David finds success in everything he does. This makes him beloved by the people and, eventually, hated by Saul. I find this line particularly interesting (emphasis mine),
David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the Lord was with him. When Saul recognized this, he became even more afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David because he was so successful at leading his troops into battle.
Like today, people like leaders who can lead them successfully. Now, it does make sense that a leader who did not succeed at leading should be considered ill suited for the job. However, as I read this, I imagine the people loving David just because he is successful. They do not care whether or not God is with David or whether or not he has any personal integrity. Nor do they care that Saul is still king. They only care about following the person who can currently give them the most benefits. Reminds me of modern elections.

We also read today about how David marries the first of his many wives. After rejecting Saul's daughter Merab because he felt he was not worthy of the hand of the king's daughter, David won Michal by bringing to Saul the foreskins of 200 Philistines (twice as many as Saul required). Imagine carrying back a basket full of foreskins from a battle field. Eww! In any case, Saul had hoped David would be killed and so was rather disappointed.

The reading ends with Saul attempting to take David's life a couple times and being saved by Saul's own children. Both Jonathan, Saul's son, and Michal, Saul's daughter and David's wife, warn David of Saul's threats and help him escape. Now that's family drama.

New Testament

Jesus continues to show he knows absolutely nothing about the art of persuasion. Even if it is true that the folks he is talking to
are the children of [their] father the devil, and [] love to do the evil things he does
it is not going to make anyone want to listen to him if he just bluntly says that. Even if it's true that
you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
it is not true that you can force people to acknowledge the truth just by telling them, "it is true because I say so".

On the other hand, these readings reveal a lot about why some Christians think that saying something along the lines of, "You're a fool, and you're going to hell" is an effective way to start a conversation with an atheist. Even if this was a legitimate way for Jesus to convince people (and I don't think it was), it does not follow that this is a legitimate way for Jesus' followers to engage people. Jesus, if he existed and was who he said he was, was in the privileged position of really knowing the Truth when he hurled insults at people. His followers, on the other hand, are not in this privileged position. They may think they know the mind of God, but when it comes down to it, they are just guessing. As such, they should be much much more cautious when making absolute pronouncements.

Psalms and Proverbs

Some good proverbs today.
A glad heart makes a happy face;
a broken heart crushes the spirit.
A wise person is hungry for knowledge,
while the fool feeds on trash.