Tuesday, August 04, 2015

2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33

Year B - Pentecost +11 or Energy to Witness 11
August 9, 2015

Orders are orders up to the point where they are not.

As per usual we are faced with a basic choice—deal gently or deal pragmatically.

David asks for gentleness; Joab counters with 3 spears.

Regardless of whether this is royal propaganda absolving David of Absalom’s death or not, we are all caught fast between heaven and hell, gentleness and pragmatism, past and future. It is not just hair that catches us in the middle of a moment of deciding where meaning lies. It is the state of a human being with knowledge of good and evil, a choice of mercy or practical power politics. (Being caught fast between is one of Walter Brueggemann’s wonderful insights.)

This particular put together would ring a bit truer if the middle section were verse 14 instead of 15. Do feel free to modify this accordingly. The ten added a finality to Absalom’s death, but the instigator of such was Joab with his spears. Let’s at least honor the actor here and not cover it up. The one asked to be gentle is the same one who decided not to be gentle.

With this story in mind, how is your week looking? Did you start out with great resolve to express mercy (and that preemptively) only to find that by Tuesday, you have already stuck your spears into someone? Can your week still be redeemed after such betrayal of yourself and your intentions? Well, fortunately, there is more forgiveness available than we are generally willing to receive. Give it another try, there are still days to go before the week is up and we can still learn kindness.

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