Posts Tagged ‘God’s plan’

2 SAMUEL 1:1, 17-27

After the death of Saul, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag.

17 David intoned this lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan. 18 (He ordered that The Song of the Bow be taught to the people of Judah; it is written in the Book of Jashar.) He said:

19 Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places!
    How the mighty have fallen!
20 Tell it not in Gath,
    proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon;
or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,
    the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult.

21 You mountains of Gilboa,
    let there be no dew or rain upon you,
    nor bounteous fields!
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
    the shield of Saul, anointed with oil no more.

22 From the blood of the slain,
    from the fat of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
    nor the sword of Saul return empty.

23 Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
    In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles,
    they were stronger than lions.

24 O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
    who clothed you with crimson, in luxury,
    who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

25 How the mighty have fallen
    in the midst of the battle!

Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.
26     I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
greatly beloved were you to me;
    your love to me was wonderful,
    passing the love of women.

27 How the mighty have fallen,
    and the weapons of war perished!

We might well wonder what David is up to here, mourning with such deep anguish the death of Saul and his son, Jonathan. Jonathan we can understand, for his friendship with David had been strong and bound with a vow of everlasting trust and honor. But Saul? Hadn’t this king been on David’s heels for months, seeking his life out of jealousy for David’s popularity and obvious talents?

A number of psalms were very possibly composed during the period that David was fleeing Saul’s wrath, and the desperate cry for shelter and salvation we hear in them leaves us somewhat dumbfounded that David could have had any affection left for Saul at all.

In the story of David’s call and rise to power, we encounter a constant refrain when it comes to his appraisal of Saul – still king but wholly obsessed with destroying this Chosen One who had been anointed by the judge and prophet Samuel to be his successor.

David has nothing but respect for the mad king, not for his personality and demeanor but for the fact that he was also God’s anointed. His belief in the sovereign will and providential plan of God was so deep as to inspire his loyalty to Saul, even though Saul was his greatest enemy. David knew that Saul had a place in God’s plan for Israel, and he treated him with the highest respect because he trusted so fully in God.

PSALM 46

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
    though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
    God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the Lord;
    see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
    I am exalted among the nations,
    I am exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Religion is often criticized as so much whistling in the dark. Under the harsh and unforgiving conditions of mortality, human beings have a desperate need to believe they are supported by providence and that their existence doesn’t just end in oblivion. The plain fact of the matter is that we’re thrown into existence and fall out of it without so much as a sigh of indifference from the universe.

Now it may be true that religion frequently ascribes to its god more supremacy and control over what’s going on than he or she genuinely deserves. To an outsider it can sometimes sound as if God is nothing more than a personification of what the ancient Greeks named Fate – the universal principle or ultimate agency by which the order of things is presumably prescribed: a.k.a. “God’s sovereign plan.” Such belief in an absolute necessity behind everything is at least more comforting than the idea of it all as random and utterly pointless.

But maybe it’s not human insecurity that best explains the phenomenon of religion. Could it be that a mystical insight rather than neurotic anxiety underlies our many concepts of God? Perhaps it’s not primarily our fear of death that compelled the first thought and stories of God. More likely it was the intuition that our existence is grounded in a present mystery we cannot explain, but which supports us, inhabits us, confronts us, and transcends us in the marvelous adventure of being alive.

What’s more, this present mystery is provident – for here you are! The breath in your lungs, the beat of your heart, your living body and the countless life-lines connecting you to the earth and its moon, to our Sun and the spinning planets, into the galaxy and out to that One Song (uni-verse) that’s been topping the charts now for the past 15 billion years – all of it is conspiring to open a window of awareness on this very moment.

You blink, and it opens again.