Questions and Reflections

July 2015

A reflection on 2 Samuel 11:1-15: David and Bathsheba

Our first reading is from 2 Samuel 11:1-15.

When it comes to Bathsheba, we can't read this story as a love story. David and Bathsheba didn't meet at a party or at a gathering with friends. David spotted her, desired her, and ordered her soldiers to take her. In this story, Bathsheba doesn't speak. We don't hear from her perspective. All we see in the story is that the soldiers came to take her and she went with them because she didn't have a choice. David's power allowed him collect women and so he did, with Bathsheba as his victim today. She returns home, washes, and eventually realizes she's pregnant. David does all that he can to separate the pregnancy from him before arranging for Bathsheba's husband's death. This is not a beautiful story and it's difficult to witness David's actions here and align it with the image of the little shepherd boy who defeat Goliath so many years prior. This Scripture, when read closely, focuses solely on David. He, and he alone, is responsible for his actions. 

So what do we do with this text? It's part of Scripture so we can't ignored it. It's part of our heritage and proclamation as well. It's also a piece of Scripture that is lived out in the lives of women and girls all over the world who are raped and assaulted. Scripture doesn't try to run away from the human story. Instead, it reflects honestly the darkness that exists in our world. 

Maybe one thing to take away from this text is the fact that we know Bathsheba's name. Scripture is notorious in not recording the names of women. Even Jesus's ministry among women and with women supporters is not recorded fully. But in this story of violence, Bathsheba's name is there. We know her husband and have hints about her family life. She's not just an object but is a person with a name, history, and story. She's known. And that knowing is not just something that God does. We're called to be like God and know others. Women are not objects. David's actions are not holy. His exercise of power in this way is not what God wants. God wants all to be known and to thrive because, when we follow Bathsheba's story, that's what happens to her. She thrives in spite of what David does to her. But thriving after violence isn't God's desire. God's hope is that violence doesn't start at all. 


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A Reflection on 2 Samuel 6: David and the Ark

Our First Reading is from 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19.

When you think about Indiana Jones, what do you think of? I think about his clothes: that whip, the hat, and that leather jacket. They are fantastic. But beyond his wardrobe, what makes Indiana Jones great is also just how terrible he is as an archaeologist. He breaks rules, taking objects away from where he found them before he properly records where it is found and why it was created. He's obsessed with objects but not with the people who created them. Indiana Jones is terrible at his job - but he sometimes does get something right. At the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the Ark of the Covenant is about to be opened, Dr. Jones tells his companion to close her eyes because God's presence isn't only wonderful. It's also dangerous.

Today's story from 2 Samuel shows David bringing the Ark into Jerusalem. The Ark traveled with God's people ever since God delivered the ten commandments to the Israelites. After they were smashed on the golden calf, the pieces were gathered up and placed into a large box. The ark is part of God's stuff, containing God's word, promises, and presence. David desires to bring God's stuff into David's capital city. But this journey has issues. In the verses we don't read today, a man is killed when he touches the ark. The ark brings blessing and also danger. David doesn't know what to do so he hesitates before deciding that the Ark needs to come home.

As members of Christ's body, we talk a lot about God's presence. We ask for God to be with us in our worship,homes, and families. But God's presence can also be a fearful thing. To have God present means that we have to give up our control. When the Creator of the Universe is present, we can't really compete. But our Sin is that we still try to. We know that God can bless us but God's presence also undermines our own power and control. Our control is a scary thing to give up. But the beauty of our relationship with God is that our fear doesn't define God's love for us. Instead, God promises to come us anyways and it's up to us to embrace this God who loves us even when we don't love God


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A reflection on 2 Samuel 5: David takes Jerusalem

Our first reading today is from 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10

In today's first reading, David is finally declared king by the people of Israel. The elders gather with him in the holy city of God where the tombs of Sarah and Abraham, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah, are located. This is the city where David's kingdom begins. But this city isn't Jerusalem because Jerusalem hasn't been conquered yet. Jerusalem won't become Zion and the City of David until the 7th year of his reign. That length of time is a gap in the story that we carry with us. We tend not to remember that Jerusalem was something else before David moved in.  

On this weekend when we celebrate the declaration of Independence, I think today's text from 2 Samuel invites us to consider our whole history, including the parts that are our gaps. Let's not just remember the signing of the Declaration at Independence Hall but also how our first form of government didn't include the US Constitution. Our story is fascinating, bigger than just the narrative we might experience at a 4th of July Fireworks show. In our history is depth, complexity, pain, and wonder. We have our flaws and our strengths, destructive and life giving events. There is a reason why we're sometimes called part of the Great Experiment and that experiment only works if all parts of it are known and examined. We shouldn't be afraid of what our story tells us because, as we see in Scripture, God is comfortable with complexity. God isn't afraid of working through difficult or wonderful times. Our brokenness is just as much a part of us as our successes and joys. And we shouldn't think that God is included in only one part of our story. God isn't afraid of our missing gaps. God is present in all of who we are and where we come from. God is in our gaps. And God loves us in spite of the gaps we have. 


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