Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

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Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Proving Ground

Daily Readings
Song of Solomon 6 + I Samuel 25 + Daniel 5 + Prayer of Azariah

Quote of the Day
…with a contrite heart and a humble spirit may we be accepted, as though it were with burnt offerings of rams and bulls, or with tens of thousands of fat lambs; such may our sacrifice be in your sight today, and may we unreservedly follow you, for no shame will come to those who trust in you. And now with all our heart we follow you; we fear you and seek your presence. The Prayer of Azariah 16-18

Daily Text: I Samuel 25:28-31
28Please forgive the trespass of your servant; for the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD; and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. 29If anyone should rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living under the care of the LORD your God; but the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. 30When the LORD has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you prince over Israel, 31my lord shall have no cause of grief, or pangs of conscience, for having shed blood without cause or for having saved himself. And when the LORD has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant."

Lectio What one word or phrase from the Daily Text leaps out at you? ‘Comment’ below.

Proving Ground
What is the point of chapter 25? Samuel’s obituary? More Robin Hood stories? The announcement of two new wives? The realities of outlawry in the wilderness? Probably not. Samuel, Jonathan, Saul and now Abigail ‘see’ clearly God’s design and announce it to David. And Abigail articulates this coming reality as beautifully as anyone preceding her does. She takes on the stature of a prophetess when she comes to David ostensibly trying to rectify her husband’s churlishness. “…for the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house.” That is, she is prophesying that he will have progeny, his kingdom will be declared and his line will inherit his kingdom. Saul does not have a ‘sure’ house. That is what is at issue between them. But she goes further and declares, “If anyone should rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living under the care of the LORD your God” [vs. 29]. The image here is like an ancient agricultural figure of speech, suggestive of the bundling of grain. David is to be bundled by YHWH, protected, cared for, and kept for specific use. But more than all this, Abigail, advocates that he not slay Nabal, the fool, and thus bring on himself unnecessary bloodguilt. In other words, David, don’t play the fool simply to avenge a fool. Her counsel is heeded. Obviously, there is the play of attraction between the sexes to help convince him, but it could have gone the other way very easily.

How often we stand on our pride and play the fool to protect this ephemeral emotion. This time and in this way David’s ‘innocence’ is again asserted. He is proving himself worthy to be the king God has called him to be. Hot-tempered, impulsive, passionate, still he can rule himself and make good decisions—not that he always will, but generally speaking he will. Samuel is dead and his counsel is no longer available, but God’s hand is not shortened and in Abigail he directs David once again. Oh, that we will recognize God’s Abigail in our lives as David did in his.

Meditatio What would you add to this commentary on the Daily Text? ‘Comment’ below.

from David and Abigail
William Henry Venable
She faltered, lifting up
Imploring eyes to aid her pleading tongue.
How eloquent in every age and land
Is beauty’s potent and persuasive spell,
To stay or hasten, madden or subdue
Men’s passions! David felt the softening charm
Of that fair pleading face, and, while his hand,
Forgetful of the purpose of his sword,
Paused on its hilt, his countenance grew mild.
Not so the mood of those his followers,
Who, held by his authority in leash,
Impatient for the onset, chafed and growled.
His gesture awed them, and the suppliant,
Her features beaming with a new-lit hope,
Rose from her knees, inspired and sustained
By courage sent from God, and uttered this:
“Forbear, O son of Jesse, Israel’s king
That art to be, forbear from shedding blood
In such a paltry cause, nor stain thy hand
By personal revenge, for art not thou
The Lord’s anointed, chosen to redress
Thy people’s ills and right a nation’s wrongs?
‘Tis thine to right the battles of the Lord;
And though a man is risen to pursue,
And though the hosts of evil seek thy soul,
Thy soul is safely in the bundle bound
Of life with God thy Lord. He shall outsling,
As from the middle of a sling, thy foes.
Because no evil has been found in thee,
Thy house is sure and surely thou shalt reign.
When that which God hath spoken comes to pass
‘Twill be no grief to thee that thou has held
Thy sword this day from shedding guiltless blood.
Remember, in that day, thy handmaid’s words.”

Then David answered Abigail: “Thy prayer
Hath kept me back from hurting thee, though I
Had sworn to smite the house of Nabal, blessed be
The God of Israel which did send thee here this day,
And blessed thou and thine advice which held
My hand from causeless shedding blood. Return
In peace to thine own house.”
So saying, he
Received of Abigail that she had brought,
Then back to Paran led his men of arms.
411:169

(Alternative poem? Include under ‘comment’ below.)

Oratio Conspire to respond with an act of kindness for someone you encounter today. Make it loving, low key and low risk. Hold a door, clean a car, give a flower, notice the unnoticed, make Christ’s love real. Write your experience below under ‘Comment.’

Contemplatio Enjoy what God is doing through you.

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