A Lectionary Thought
July 31, 2012The Old Testament lesson for Sunday was 2 Samuel 11: 1 - 15. My professor of Old Testament at Duke encouraged her students to preach from the Hebrew Scriptures. She urged us to remind parishioners that it is important to know from whence we come in our Judaeo Christian heritage. So my reflection begins with the passage from 2 Samuel. Actually, my reflection begins and ends with verse one of the passage. Here it is: "In the spring of the year, the time when the kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him...." The verse is written with such a matter of factness, it struck me and stopped me in my reflection tracks. In the spring of the year... what could the writer have said that would describe the spring of the year? Weather? Rainy or dry? Busy? No. He writes a descriptive phrase with such certainty of conviction and knowledge, that it seems like a perfectly normal and expected way of being. Spring... "when the kings go out to battle." It must be an acceptable yearly occurrence, like... spring... when I flip my mattresses. Or spring... when we wash the windows. It occurs to me that kingly battle is scheduled like Martha Stewart's calendar. Plant peonies. Mulch roses. Go to battle. Check. Honestly, when I first read the passage I visualized Foghorn Leghorn with his time sheet punching in his arrival time at work to guard the chicken house. Was this a time in history when war was such a normative way of existence, there was little evaluation of its merit or necessity, or any possibility that it could be avoided? That question carried me to a new question, especially in the light of our current involvement in wars and sanctions and rhetoric of joining forces with allies in further conflict. Is war so typical and accepted in the world today that we barely question the wisdom of where war takes us? Where do we measure the costs of war? It seems that in the 2 Samuel passage, when David is the king who uses battle to win the woman he loves, the better judgment of a king is lost to lust, and the luster of kingship is tarnished forever. Perhaps if spring were not such a time given to going out to battle, David might not have gotten into such trouble in the first place. A husband would have been home taking care of his wife; a king might have been found working for the good of his people. Who knows? Sometimes the human condition, the drive to victory, the conditions that feed our need for power, the willingness to go along with the way things always are... in the spring when kings go out for battle... we fail to be all God wants us to be, all God has given us potential to be. Spring of 2012 is past. It is summer. What are the"kings" among us going out to do? Are we doing that which is acceptable and pleasing to God? That which is in the interest of the greater good of the kingdom?