2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19, Psalm 24, Ephesians 1:3-14, Mark 6:14-29
2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19:
- This is a strange passage, and in it, Michal, one of David's wives, and daughter of deceased King Saul, comes out looking whiny and moody. But make sure you know her whole story. She was in love with David, and he married her, but eventually when he and Saul came into conflict, Saul gave Michael to another man to be married. When David wanted Michal back, he had to tear her away from her new husband, who followed after them crying. It is not surprising that she isn't thrilled to see David prancing around in his ephod (decorative ritual underwear!) Chapter six unfortunately ends with noting that Michal remains barren, not able to continue her family bloodline. I think she gets a bad deal.
- That aside, the heart of the text today is in David's full body, soul, and heart dance before the Lord. He literally puts his whole self into giving thanks to God, dancing "with all his might." We are rarely so free and uninhibited when it comes to putting ourselves before God. What's holding you back?
- What belongs to God in this psalm isn't limited to humankind - we too often act like that's all that's meant by God's creation!
- Check out Chris Haslam's notes for background on this psalm.
- "clean hands and pure hearts" - A mix of motherly and godly advice?
- This psalm ties directly to the Advent hymn, "Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates." The psalmist prepares for a triumphant arrival of the deity.
- "adoption as his children through Jesus Christ" - The language of adoption in terms of our relationship to God stirs mixed emotions for me. On the one hand, it is such a loving image of God choosing to make us part of God's family - going out of the way to make us children of God's own. On the other hand, I hear a lot of the biblical witness saying that as creatures of God, created by God's hand, that fact alone makes us God's children. Are we or aren't we all God's children? I think we are…
- "The Beloved" from the Greek agapema, meaning, an object of love. Here Christ is called the beloved, the same word God speaks to Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan. Elsewhere in the scriptures, we are called beloved. One of my former bishops, Bishop Violet Fisher, always opened her letters by addressing us as The Beloved. Amazing comfort in little words.
- "having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will" - predestined, from the Greek prooristhentes, meaning "to determine beforehand". Are we predestined to be adopted or not adopted by God? To heaven or hell? If we believe that God has plans for our lives, which I do, how is that different than believing that God has determined already our final salvation/non-salvation, which I don't believe?
- This text is another one that has dancing in it - a strange connection for texts.
- Foolishness - King Herod, walking the line with a chance of making a right or at least better decision, perhaps even somewhat intrigued by John, winds up, as the result of a drunken promise, beheading him. What is the most foolish thing you've ever done? How might things have been different in the long run if Herod had not been so foolish?
- How do you think John's disciples felt? The gospels tell us that they interacted, of course, with Jesus' disciples - do you think they were disillusioned? Went to follow Jesus? What do you think they did?
- Following news of these events, Jesus tries to withdraw from the crowds, but that's the text for another Sunday...