bible blog 519

SSU KYI RECEIVED BY PRESIDENT OF BURMA

This blog provides a meditation on the Episcopal daily readings along with a headline from world news

2 Samuel 19:24-43

24 Mephibosheth grandson of Saul came down to meet the king; he had not taken care of his feet, or trimmed his beard, or washed his clothes, from the day the king left until the day he came back in safety. 25When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said to him, ‘Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?’ 26He answered, ‘My lord, O king, my servant deceived me; for your servant said to him, “Saddle a donkey for me, so that I may ride on it and go with the king.” For your servant is lame. 27He has slandered your servant to my lord the king. But my lord the king is like the angel of God; do therefore what seems good to you. 28For all my father’s house were doomed to death before my lord the king; but you set your servant among those who eat at your table. What further right have I, then, to appeal to the king?’ 29The king said to him, ‘Why speak any more of your affairs? I have decided: you and Ziba shall divide the land.’ 30Mephibosheth said to the king, ‘Let him take it all, since my lord the king has arrived home safely.’

31 Now Barzillai the Gileadite had come down from Rogelim; he went on with the king to the Jordan, to escort him over the Jordan. 32Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old. He had provided the king with food while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man. 33The king said to Barzillai, ‘Come over with me, and I will provide for you in Jerusalem at my side.’ 34But Barzillai said to the king, ‘How many years have I still to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? 35Today I am eighty years old; can I discern what is pleasant and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats or what he drinks? Can I still listen to the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king? 36Your servant will go a little way over the Jordan with the king. Why should the king recompense me with such a reward? 37Please let your servant return, so that I may die in my own town, near the graves of my father and my mother. But here is your servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the king; and do for him whatever seems good to you.’ 38The king answered, ‘Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do for him whatever seems good to you; and all that you desire of me I will do for you.’ 39Then all the people crossed over the Jordan, and the king crossed over; the king kissed Barzillai and blessed him, and he returned to his own home. 40The king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him; all the people of Judah, and also half the people of Israel, brought the king on his way.

The restoration of David as king is an opportunity for him to show his generosity to friends and foes. Mephibosheth had betrayed him and sided with Absalom in the hope of winning back some power. David chides him, showing that he believes what he’s been told by Ziba, but he lets him live. Barzillai’s weary common sense is touching as is his promotion of his son Chimham. The author wants to how that decent people act with nobility and style; and that their actions serve the people and the purposes of God. The actions of Tariq Jahan whose son was killed in recent riots in Birmingham displayed a nobility rare enough to capture public imagination.

 Mark 12:35-44

35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple, he said, ‘How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36David himself, by the Holy Spirit, declared,

“The Lord said to my Lord,

‘Sit at my right hand,

until I put your enemies under your feet.’ ”

37David himself calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?’ And the large crowd was listening to him with delight.

38 As he taught, he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, 39and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets! 40They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.’

41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Mark’s Jesus teaches that the Messiah should not be called “Son of David” probably because that title spoke of nationalistic expectations which he (Jesus/ Mark) regards as foreign to the purposes of the true Messiah. Worldly power and the violence necessary to gain it, remain a temptation for religious people who think that God ought to be on their side. It should always be opposed, challenged, ridiculed, and kept in contempt.

With a sure hand Jesus distinguishes false religion which seeks power and prestige with true faith which fulfils duty with love. Literally, Jesus says that the widow gives her “life”, her “bios”, for God, contrasting this with those who give out of their abundance. His insight certainly remains challenging to me.

 

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