Saturday, June 3, 2017

June 3

II Samuel 20:14-22:20; Acts 1:1-26; Psalm 121:1-8; Proverbs 16:18

I graduated from a Christian university where each student earned, essentially, a minor in Biblical studies.  As part of our 30 units of Bible, we took a class on the book of Acts.  One whole semester of sermons and journeys and sermons and journeys followed by more sermons and journeys.  As you can probably tell, I didn't enjoy that class very much.

Several years ago, however, as part of a Bible-reading program at our church, I read Acts in very small chunks, no more than 2-3 paragraphs a day.  And God worked in my heart that year: I fell in love with the drama and power of Acts.  So much happens in its pages!  So many conversions and conflicts and resolutions, and so many men and women unshakably committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It inspired, rather than bored, me.  What a good gift from the Lord, to allow me to experience a very familiar section of Scripture in an entirely new way.  Perhaps you may encounter the Acts of the Apostles in a like manner this year, or maybe it will occur with another portion of our readings throughout the rest of this year.  I don't know; I only hope and pray that you will receive such a gift.  I'm personally excited to read through Acts once again!

But that enthusiasm is dampened somewhat by our Old Testament reading.  Don't get me wrong - I love the Old Testament (as you may have deduced from the number of posts I write on it).  Today's reading is hard, though.  I just can't help but feel like it's all wrong.  Why should the nation suffer for Saul's sin?  Why three long years of famine?  Why didn't God reveal the root problem sooner?  Why allow the Gibeonites (remember them from Joshua 9?) to ask such an awful price (II Sam. 21:6)?  And why, oh why, would this tragedy bring healing on the nation (see vs. 14)?

As a person who veers toward justice on the mercy-justice continuum, I want there to be recompense for these Gibeonites.  Saul, likely trying to recoup some of God's favor, willfully and sinfully broke a covenant with them.  He did wrong; there should be justice.  But as a mother, I'm horrified that innocent men died for the actions of a long-dead king.  I'm moved by Rizpah's actions.  What grief and yet what nobility - to brave such conditions to give her sons and relatives the little blessing and dignity she could, despite the manner of their deaths (II Sam. 21:10).  David himself is impressed by her actions.  Cold comfort, I'm sure.

The story of God working in the grand narrative of human history is a complex one, full of both uncomfortable episodes and blistering glory.  The story of God working in the small narrative of Sarah Marsh's history is a complex one, containing the same.  This small bit of Scripture is a reminder to me that I am finite and created and therefore unable to comprehend the workings of an infinite God.  Even so, this God cares deeply and intimately for me.  "He will not let [my] foot slip,....the Lord watches over [me],....the Lord will keep [me] from all harm--he will watch over [my] life; the Lord will watch over [my] coming and going both now and forevermore" (Ps. 121:3-8).

- Sarah Marsh

How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you.

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