Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: 1 Samuel 20, Proverbs 24 and Augustine's Confessions 27

1 Samuel 20 – David flees again, back to Jonathan wondering what it is he has done to earn the hatred of Saul. Jonathan assures him that his father never does anything without telling him (Jonathan) and that he will protect David. 

David worries about the fact that Saul knows of Jonathan’s affection for him—they have sworn to a “covenant” in 1 Samuel 18:3 based on “the bond” of love that existed between them. “Jonathan [had] sealed the pact by taking of his robe and giving it to David, together with his tunic, sword, bow, and belt” (1 Samuel 18:4).

David now asks Jonathan to try to plumb his father’s intentions.  Saul will be having a banquet that David will be expected to be at.  He will not be there and hopes Jonathan will let him know if Saul is angry or not at his absence.  Jonathan will let David know how he responds by a signal he sets up: if he sends a boy to fetch his arrows before where David is, then everything is fine.  If he sends him past where David is waiting, then it means David must run for his life. He, Jonathan, says, “May the Lord be with you, as he has been with my father.  If I am still alive, show me the faithful love of the Lord; but if I die, never cut off your faithful love from my house, even if the Lord were to cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.’ Thus Jonathan makes a covenant with the house of David. . .” (20:14-16). This covenant will later be a huge factor in how David deal’s with Jonathan’s crippled son Mephibosheth.
The first day, Saul does not show anger at David’s absence, but the next day after his anger is kindled (20:30).  He gets into an argument with Jonathan.  He tries to tell Jonathan he will never be king if David lives.  Jonathan keeps telling his father that David has done no wrong and Saul finally throws his spear at his own son.  Jonathan too is full of anger (20:34) and grieves for David.
The next day Jonathan goes out into the field and gives the appropriate sign to David.  They have a moment to themselves before David leaves—weeping and promising faithfulness forever.

Proverbs 24 – Here are a few good words:
“By wisdom a house is built, by discernment the foundation is laid; by knowledge its storerooms filled with riches of every kind, rare and desirable” (24:3-4).

“Better the wise man than the strong, the man with knowledge than the brawny fellow; for war is won by sound thinking and victory rests in having many counselors” (24:5-6).

“Do not be indifferent when men suffer injustice. If you say, ‘I do not know this man!’ does not he who tests hearts perceive it?” (24:10-11)

“Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and when he stumbles, let not your heart exult lest the Lord see it and be displeased . . .” (24:17).

“To show partiality in judgment is not good. The man who says, ‘You are innocent’ to the guilty; the peoples will have only curses for him, and the nations horror” (24:24).

“By the idler’s field I was passing, by the vineyard of a man who had no sense, there it all lay, deep in thorns, entirely overgrown with nettles, and its stone wall broken down. And as I gazed I pondered, I drew this lesson from the sight, ‘A little sleep, a little drowsiness, a little folding of the arms to take life more easily, and like a vagrant, poverty is at your elbow and, like a beggar, want’” (24:30-34).

Augustine (354-439)
27 - Bear with me, my God, while I speak a little of those talents you have bestowed upon me, and on what follies I wasted them. For a lesson sufficiently disquieting to my soul was given me, in hope of praise, and fear of shame or stripes, to speak the words of Juno [Roman for the Greek goddess Hera], as she raged and sorrowed that she could not

    Latium bar
    From all approaches of the Dardan king,

which I had heard Juno never uttered. Yet were we compelled to stray in the footsteps of these poetic fictions, and to turn that into prose, which the poet had said in verse. And his speaking was most applauded in whom, according to the reputation of the persons delineated, the passions of anger and sorrow were most strikingly reproduced, and clothed in the most suitable language. But what is it to me, O my true Life, my God, that my declaiming was applauded above that of many who were my contemporaries and fellow-students? Behold, is not all this smoke and wind? Was there nothing else, too, on which I could exercise my wit and tongue? Your praise, Lord, Your praises might have supported the tendrils of my heart by your Scriptures; so had it not been dragged away by these empty trifles, a shameful prey of the fowls of the air. For there is more than one way in which men sacrifice to the fallen angels.

The smoke and wind of worldly learning. Augustine is very tough on himself and critical of the whole Roman educational system. I tried and failed to find the meaning or context of the quote he includes here, which apparently he not only needed to repeat but say with due emotion and “convincement” that he accepted its truth and importance. The more convincingly he recited and immersed himself in their importance, the better he was thought to be.

While I have a difficult time latching onto the weight he gives to the offensive content of what he was forced to learn, I see what he is saying about the fact that we do not as children and young people have much if anything to say about what we are asked to learn, the values and beliefs we are made to embrace. These things are forced upon us by our tribe, our time, our cultural context. You wonder what he would think of the teaching techniques of the Catholic schools that so many go through today and rebel against as antithetical to spiritual truth.

There is a time growing up when you are not in control of what you must learn and embrace, but at some point reflection and the inner guide’s voice kicks in. For me this happened when I was about 8. I began to look up into the sky at night and bring my woes and my questions there, and I began to feel a guide within me comment without words on what was happening around me. And I felt in that moment connected to a teacher that I could rely on.

No comments:

Post a Comment