1 Samuel 16:1-13, Psalm 23, Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41
1 Samuel 16:1-13:
- This is a classic story of God calling an unexpected person. David seems to be the last choice of all the brothers - except to God.
- "how long will you grieve?" God asks Samuel. Sometimes we can get bogged down in bad decisions, plans gone wrong, etc., that distract us from following God. God says - Get on with it. There are other plans. Other ways I can work. You just have to keep moving, keep being open to God's creativity.
- "for the Lord does not see as mortals see" - THANK GOD for that!!! God sees insides, not outsides. God sees potential, not past.
- Ah, perhaps the one passage of scripture that most people, regardless of their usual preference of translation, prefer to hear in the poetry of the King James version, myself included. Just a part of our identity as people of faith.
- "I shall not want." Hmm. I think we skip right over this little phrase. We like to hear about our overflowing cup. Less interesting to us, less believable, is that we could be without want.
- Have you ever tried writing this as a reverse Psalm? Verse by verse, reverse the meaning of the phrases. Not necessarily point for point, but in the sense of it. Instead of "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want," try, "I have no one to lead me, and my need is boundless." I've been led in this process, and led my Bible Study in it. At first you might ask, "Why do it this way?" But, especially when in a group, reading back all the hopeless examples of our life without God, we see the power of this psalm more clearly.
- Like all well-known texts, there is a danger of it communicating nothing fresh to us. This psalm is often used at funerals - many people know it by heart. Many find it comforting and strengthening. What else can it be? Challenging? Guiding us?
- light/dark imagery. I recommend using care in the way we use light/dark imagery in our preaching. Whether you think it makes sense or not, there are racial implications with light and dark imagery that can cause pain if we are not careful in our words.
- "sleeper, awake!" I like this sense that we are just sleeping before the light comes to our lives - not dead, or nonexistent. But in a sleep, a dream-like state.
- "everything that becomes visible is light" Paul starts saying that everything exposed by light becomes visible. Logical enough. But the reverse statement is not a logical assumption. Intriguing.
- "who sinned?" That's our natural human response, isn't it? We want to know who we can blame, who is at fault, when we see suffering. We don't like to admit that people might experience suffering not because of a sin committed.
- Isn't it amazing how much different the blind man looks to people once his sight is restored? People don't even recognize him, with his vision restored. But we have no reason to think his outward appearance has changed in any way. Amazing - how much we must judge people by what we believe they are or are not capable of doing. Amazing - how much an encounter with God can change someone. Amazing - how impossible it seems to everyone that we can change so drastically.
- The man tells it straight: he doesn't know who Jesus is, if he's a sinner or not, exactly. But he knows this - "I was blind, now I see." The results point to who Jesus is.
- "You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?" Today, do we still condemn people because of the wrongdoings of others? Even though Jesus says this man's parents did not sin, pretend that they were sinners for a minute. That the man was born blind because of his parents' sins. Is the man to be held accountable? Do we do that in society? I'm afraid we do.