Sunday, August 18, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: 1 Samuel 26-27, Proverbs 30 and Augustine's Confessions 31

1 Samuel 26 – The Ziphites come and report David’s whereabouts to Saul.  Saul takes his usual 3000 men to go hunt for him. 

When he learns of the expedition, David sends out spies to find Saul. Ahimelech, the Hittite and Abishai, son of Zeruiah, go with David to Saul'’s camp by night and find Saul asleep with a spear stuck in the ground next to his head. Abishai thinks David should kill him, that God has given him into his hand once again.  But David asks, “who can raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?” (26:9)

So they take the spear and a water jar and leave.  When he is far away on top of a hill, he calls to the army and specifically to Abner to abuse him for not watching carefully over Saul.  Saul recognizes David’s voice and again calls out in an affectionate tone.  Again David asks him why he continues to pursue him, what guilt does he have. Saul, in his most vacillating way, acknowledges his craziness: “I have done wrong; come back, my son David, for I will never harm you again, because my life was precious in your sight today; I have been a fool, and have made a great mistake” (26:21). David returns the spear.  He simply expresses the hope that God will favor him for the good turn he has done to Saul in sparing him (26:24).

1 Samuel 27 – David despairs of ever escaping Saul’s wrath and runs away to the land of the Philistines, to king Achish of Gath.  When Saul learns this, he stops hunting for him.  David gets Achish to give him one of the Philistine towns to live in—Ziglag, and David remains for a year and four months.
They raid the Geshurites, the Girzites and Amalekites, leaving much death and destruction in their tracks.  Achish is pleased for he thinks it means that David will never find any favor (allies) in his lands.

Proverbs 30 – Called the sayings of Agur (no identity confirmed in the note):

“Who has gone up to heaven and come down again. Who has cupped the wind in his hands? Who has bound up the waters in a cloak – who has marked out all the ends of the earth? What is his name, what is his son’s name if you know it?” (30:4).

“[G]ive me neither poverty nor riches, grant me only my share of bread to eat, for fear that surrounded by plenty, I should fall away and say, ‘Yahweh—who is Yahweh?’ or else, in destitution, take to stealing and profane the name of my God” (30:8-9).

Augustine (354-439)
31 - But yet, O Lord, to you, most excellent and most good, Thou Architect and Governor of the universe, thanks had been due unto you, our God, even had you willed that I should not survive my boyhood. For I existed even then; I lived, and felt, and was solicitous about my own well-being—a trace of that most mysterious unity from whence I had my being; I kept watch by my inner sense over the wholeness of my senses, and in these insignificant pursuits, and also in my thoughts on things insignificant, I learned to take pleasure in truth. I was averse to being deceived, I had a vigorous memory, was provided with the power of speech, was softened by friendship, shunned sorrow, meanness, ignorance. In such a being what was not wonderful and praiseworthy? But all these are gifts of my God; I did not give them to myself; and they are good, and all these constitute myself. Good, then, is He that made me, and He is my God; and before Him will I rejoice exceedingly for every good gift which, as a boy, I had. For in this lay my sin, that not in Him, but in His creatures — myself and the rest — I sought for pleasures, honors, and truths, falling thereby into sorrows, troubles, and errors. Thanks be to you, my joy, my pride, my confidence, my God— thanks be to you for your gifts; but preserve them to me. For thus will you preserve me; and those things which you have given me shall be developed and perfected, and I myself shall be with you, for from you is my being.

We lived (Augustine and I) thousands of years separated in time, in culture, in class, in gender, in relative importance. But his honest retelling of how he grew up and came to see the gifts God had given him as part of a different order, that the things of this world – the competitions, ambitions, sources of pride, competitions for leadership and power, are all insignificant when set against the goals God gives us to aspire to – faithfulness, honesty, integrity, kindness, mindfulness of Him. It is in these things we find our delight and our rest.

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