Submitted by Jan on Tue, 23/06/2015 – 10:40
Year B (2014-2015)
Bible Book: 2 Samuel
Verse: 17 – 27
The death of Saul came at a tumultuous time in the early history of the nation of Israel. The Israelites were fighting enemies on two fronts: Saul led the fighting against the Philistines and David led the fighting against the Amalekites. In the midst of this fighting, there was also an internal power struggle between Saul, the reigning king, and David, a young popular upstart.
The Old Testament actually has two conflicting stories about Saul’s death. In 1 Samuel 31, Saul is critically wounded and he asks his armor-bearer to kill him to avoid abuse by his captors. But the armor-bearer refuses to kill Saul, so Saul kills himself. 2 Samuel tells a slightly different version: an Amalekite tells David that a gravely wounded Saul asked him to kill him, and he did so. David then has the Amalekite executed as punishment for killing Saul, even though it had been at Saul’s own request. 2 Samuel 1 ends with a long lament by David about the deaths of Saul and Saul’s son Jonathan.
What are we to make of all this? I see two lessons. First, life can get very complicated. We can certainly see that in the HIV pandemic, with differing perceptions of causes and differing beliefs about solutions. We see people talking about the relationships between culture and theology and morality and psychology. The HIV pandemic is very complicated indeed! Dealing with all of the issues can feel overwhelming at times.
The second lesson is more hopeful. David is obviously very strongly affected by Saul’s death, despite the fact that Saul had wanted to kill him. David laments the loss of God’s anointed leader. But what David doesn’t know is that he himself is about to become God’s anointed leader. Saul’s time as a leader has passed and David’s time is about to begin. David is a flawed human being, but he will be a strong leader at a time that Israel needs one. David doesn’t yet see his own role in God’s larger plan. And that’s where the hope lies – God’s plans are much larger than any of us can see or understand. Our job is to play the role that we are asked to play so that God’s larger plan can move forward. And God surely has a larger plan for ending the AIDS epidemic.
To think about: What is the role, small or large, that God wants you to play in His larger plan for ending the AIDS epidemic?
Author: Barstow D (Dr)