bible blog 1109

This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings.

2 Samuel 5:22-6:11

New English Translation (NET)

22 The Philistines again came up and spread out in the valley of Rephaim. 23 So David asked the Lord what he should do. This time the Lord said to him, “Don’t march straight up. Instead, circle around behind them and come against them opposite the trees. 24 When you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the trees, act decisively. For at that moment the Lord is going before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.” 25 David did just as the Lord commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines from Gibeon all the way to Gezer.

the wind marching in the mulberry trees

the wind marching in the mulberry trees

David Brings the Ark to Jerusalem

6 David again assembled all the best men in Israel, thirty thousand in number. David and all the men who were with him traveled to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts, who sits enthroned between the cherubim that are on it. They loaded the ark of God on a new cart and carried it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart. They brought it with the ark of God up from the house of Abinadab on the hill. Ahio was walking in front of the ark, while David and all Israel were energetically celebrating before the Lord, singing and playing various stringed instruments, tambourines, rattles, and cymbals.

When they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and grabbed hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord was so furious with Uzzah, he killed him on the spot for his negligence. He died right there beside the ark of God.

David was angry because the Lord attacked Uzzah; so he called that place Perez Uzzah (slaughter of Uzzah), which remains its name to this very day. David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How will the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” 10 So David was no longer willing to bring the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. David left it in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months. The Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his family.

Mark 8:1-10

New English Translation (NET)

The Feeding of the Four Thousand

8 In those days there was another large crowd with nothing to eat. So Jesus called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have already been here with me three days, and they have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will faint on the way, and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples answered him, “Where can someone get enough bread in this desolate place to satisfy these people?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven.” Then he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. After he took the seven loaves and gave thanks, he broke them and began giving them to the disciples to serve. So they served the crowd. They also had a few small fish. After giving thanks for these, he told them to serve these as well. Everyone ate and was satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. There were about four thousand who ate. Then he dismissed them. 10 Immediately he got into a boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

The two accounts of miraculous feedings in Mark play a numbers game. The twelve baskets left from feeding 5000 stand for the twelve tribes of Israel, all Israel whom Jesus will feed with his truth; and the seven left from feeding 4000 stand for th seven nations of the Gentiles whom Jesus will also feed. The emphasis on feeding is a sign that through Jesus the shepherd king the generous nurture of God comes to all. If the Christian church had remembered down the ages that the communication of the gospel meant feeding bodies and minds as well as souls, some of its evangelism might have been truer to the spirit of its founder.

In the Samuel passage the wind “marching in the trees” is a wonderful image of the invisible God marching ahead of his people. It is typical of this author’s theology that nothing supernatural happens, it’s just the wind in the the trees, but to the ear of the king. it is encouragement from God.

The reader today may think that the shock of having touched the Holy Ark killed Uzzah; but David attributes it to God, and expresses his disapproval of God’s action by calling the place, “slaughter of Uzzah”. He feels that God’s reaction is over the top. The man was trying to save the Ark from falling. It’s an interesting cameo of the relationship between David and his God. He believes God is dangerous, yet he takes it upon himself to chide God for this trait. We might conclude that we needed to change our image of God; to decide that God doesn’t do this sort of thing. The book of Samuel accepts that God will be God but his servants don’t need to approve!

In their different ways, the gospel and the books of Samuel reveal much about the disciplines and pleasures of “doing theology.”

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