17 May 2010

May 17

Reference links:
Old Testament

When I first read today's reading I was confused over David's confusion. How could he not see that he was a threat to the king? The people love him, he has acheived great military success, and he is married to the king's daughter. On top of that, Saul annointed him as Israel's future king. But then I went back and looked the the text where Saul annointed David [May 14], and I realized that it is far from clear that David and his family did know why Samuel was annointed him. Samuel never explicitly tells David that he will be king.

Given that, David's confusion is, perhaps, justifiable. As bad as David's position is, I feel even worse for Jonathan.  Today's reading really highlights the difficulty of his position. He is the son of the king and next in line for the throne, but he does not really seem to want it. He has a deep friendship with David, but his father wants David killed.

Jonathan feels like he has his father's confidence ("He always tells me everything he's going to do, even the little things."), but he later learns that his own confidence in his father is misplaced.
Saul boiled with rage at Jonathan. "You stupid son of a whore!" he swore at him. "Do you think I don't know that you want him to be king in your place, shaming yourself and your mother? As long as that son of Jesse is alive, you'll never be king. Now go and get him so I can kill him!"

"But why should he be put to death?" Jonathan asked his father. "What has he
done?" Then Saul hurled his spear at Jonathan, intending to kill him. So at last Jonathan realized that his father was really determined to kill David.
I can't imagine how Jonathan would feel after having his father attempt to kill
him and after learning that his father really, truly wants to kill someone he
cares for deeply.

Of course, Jonathan helps David to escape which leads to a couple episodes that
I find entertaining. First, David acquires Goliath's sword. Given that Goliath
was a giant, I imagine that he had a large sword, so David is now walking around
with a giant sword slung across his back like some RPG character.

The other amusing incident is that after David ends up in Gath (the home of
Goliath, definitely enemy territory) he acts like a madman to avoid negative
David heard these comments and was very afraid of what King Achish
of Gath might do to him. So he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard.
New Testament

Jesus heals a blind man with mud. It is interesting that John chooses to have Jesus using a prop such as mud when the other gospels generally did not have Jesus use props in his miraculous healings.

Before the healing, Jesus and his disciples have a rather interesting little dialog.
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.  "Rabbi," his disciples asked him, "why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parnents' sins?"

"It was not because of his sins or his parents' sins," Jesus answered.  "This happened so the power of God could be seen in him."
While I think that many people these days would consider both of the options proposed by the disciples to be unfair, I also suspect many people find Jesus' reason comforting. A bad thing happened to this man for a reason; it happened to show the poewr of God. However, I am personally more comforted by the idea that bad things sometimes just happen sometimes than I am by the idea that God chooses to inflict suffering on certain people just to prove a point.

The rest of today's reading is about the formerly blind man sharing his experience with others, including the Pharisees who get very ticked off at Jesus. Jesus goes on to tell the Pharisees that they are guilty because they do not acknowledge the source of his miraculous abilities.

Psalms and Proverbs

Two psalms today. I like some of the imagery. From the first,
He lifts the poor from the dust
and the needy from the garbage dump.
And from the second,
The mountains skipped like rams,
and hills like lambs!
Today's proverbs contain some interesting observations on how inner attitude is
more important for happiness than our outer situation.
For the despondent, every day brings trouble;
for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.

A bowl of vegetables wiht someone you love
is better than steak with someone you hate.