PSALM 130

This psalm, called a “psalm of ascents” is not attributed to any author, but it has close similarities with palm 86 which is attributed to David. We recall that psalms of ascents were usually chanted by pilgrims making their way up to worship in Jerusalem.

The psalm opens with a desperate cry to God for help in a time of deep distress. The psalmist feels a separation from God because of his sins, but he recalls that God does not keep a record of the sins of the repentant. The forgiveness of God instils in those who repent a sense of awe in the presence of approaching Him in faith. So even while acknowledging his sinfulness, he can wait eagerly for the renewal of relationship with God because His love and mercy is constant and His salvation is sure.

2 SAMUEL 18: 5-9, 15, 31-33

The story of Absalom’s rebellion against his father, King David, is somewhat confusing. How should David have responded?

Absalom raised a following chiefly from the northern tribes of Israel, while David mustered an army of 3000 troops led by 3 of his trusted commanders. David suggested he accompany his men, but they dissuaded him, saying he would be the main target of the enemy, so he remained in Jerusalem as the 3 groups of soldiers marched out. Before the army left, David spoke to his commanders in the presence of the men. He made it clear that he wanted Absalom to be taken alive and not to be killed. In his earlier career, David had steadfastly refused to kill King Saul, saying Saul was God’s anointed king and was not to be killed even though Saul was seeking the life of David. Now that Absalom was seeking the life of David – his father the king – David apparently applied a different rule.

The army faithful to the king routed the army of Absalom in a terrible slaughter, while Absalom made his escape. As he rode through a forest area, his hair became entangled in the branches of a tree, his mule ran on and Absalom was left suspended by his hair in the tree. A soldier informed Joab, one of the king’s commanders of Absalom’s predicament and Joab, contrary to David’s express command, severely wounded Absalom. Some other soldiers then took Absalom’s body from the tree and finally left him lifeless.

When the messengers arrived in Jerusalem, David was expecting to hear of the capture of Absalom, but the news that Absalom had been killed was given to him. He was overcome with grief. What is confusing in David’s response is whether his grief was for the loss of his son’s life or that a loved son had set himself up to rebel against his father.

EPHESIANS 4: 25- 5:2

In these verses, Paul outlines what we would call the very basic marks of the life of a true believer. Deceit should have no part in the life of a follower of Jesus. Jesus spoke of Satan as being the father of lies (John 8:44). It is not to be expected that fellow should deceive members of the body of Christ. Anger in itself is not a problem, but so often anger can lead to unacceptable consequences. Anger must be controlled and not allowed to fester. Holding on to feelings of anger can open up the way for Satan to get a hold upon one. Staling must not be a way of life, but honest work is the path to follow. This will earn an income to live on as well as give one the means to help others.

The follower of Jesus will be careful not to give offence in speech, whether in hurtful speech or in obscene language. In all we say, we should help to build up the faith in others and not to destroy. In all our behaviour, we must be aware of the fact that the presence of the Holy Spirit is with us as the mark of His ownership of us. So, our lifestyle must not be such as to grieve the Holy Spirit. Our life together as the “body of Christ” must be characterised by kindness, gentleness and forgiveness, not insults and bitterness. Paul gives the reason for such a lifestyle – it is because, as the family of God our lives must reflect the character of God which is love and self-sacrifice.

JOHN 6: 35, 41-45

In using the metaphor of “the bread of life” Jesus is pre-empting the modern saying “you are what you eat”. If we feed on the “bread of life” our lives should become like His. A life like His will be one of great satisfaction as we become more like Him.

In the saying that He had come down from heaven, the people took offence because they knew from where He came, His parents and siblings. Jesus told them their objections were not valid because the truth in Himself is only perceived in submission to the call of God the Father. Those who respond in this way will be raised to a full life on the last day. There are several passages in the prophets referring to being taught by God (Isaiah 2:3, Micah 4:2 and others).

  1. How eagerly do we “wait for the Lord”?
  2. David mourned for his son Absalom. Did he mourn for his own loss or for Absalom’s rebellion? When Jesus said “blessed are those who mourn” what mourning did He have in mind?
  3. How would you define Christian behaviour?
  4. What does Jesus actually mean by the “Bread of life”?
Categories: Lectionary