Daily Office Meditations: Proper 9 – Tuesday
5) The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. (6) You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. (9) For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; Their inward part is destruction; Their throat is an open tomb; They flatter with their tongue.
Psalm 5:5-6; 9
(6) I am weary with my groaning; All night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears. (7) My eye wastes away because of grief; It grows old because of all my enemies.
(24) Then Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. (25) Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD.’ (26) But Samuel said to Saul, ‘I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.’ (27) And as Samuel turned around to go away, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore.
(28) So Samuel said to him, ‘The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.
1 Samuel 15:24-28
(1) Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. (2) But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. (3) Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
I used to read the Bible with righteous indignation towards the “bad people.” They are warned in the Proverbs, they are condemned in the Psalms and many are destroyed in the Old Testament stories. At some point though, I am not sure when or why, I began imagining the Scriptures about evil people as if they applied to me. I get more out of Scripture this way. I feel more honest this way. I am boastful, I work iniquity, I am deceitful, I am not faithful. By no means am I bragging of wickedness, but it is obvious that these accusations could easily be laid at my door.
When reading the story of Saul or the end of Solomon or the pride of Nebuchadnezzar, I remember my own failings. Jordan Peterson (a prominent psychologist and thinker) developed a program to help people order their lives called “Future Authoring.” In this program, you write what your life could be like in five years if you put your house in order and strove for the highest good. Then you write what your life could be like in five years if you really let go and allowed your vices to consume you. There is a crucial concept here. We need to know where we want to end up, but we also need to know where we could end up if we are not paying attention. We need something to run towards and something to run from.
This is the edification I find in reading Scripture as if the promises and the warnings are both for me. This is the benefit of allowing the condemnation to convict you of your own failings. There is a real negative consequence to being boastful, to working iniquity, etc. The universe has been built of sacrificial, divine love and there are problems when we go against that grain.
The Gospel reading gives me hope. There is a resurrection to run towards. We are baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ, so we can live the resurrection life now. The stone was rolled away, our sin was rolled away, our chains were broken off. There is a great ministry in the CEC church in Selma called “Lazurus Ministry.” The concept is that we have all been raised from the dead, but some of us are walking around with our burial clothes still attached and we need healing and restoration. We need the stone rolled away. Live in the resurrection and heed the multitude of warnings in the Bible. Just like in a fairy tale, there are many ways to stray from the path, but there is eternal glory and home at the end of the road.
It seems that all my bridges have been burned
But you say ‘That’s exactly how this grace thing works’
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with every start