Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 130; 148, 1 Samuel 31:1-13, Acts 15:12-21, Mark 5:21-43
As 1 Samuel ends, King Saul – wounded by archers and surrounded by enemy soldiers – falls on his sword rather than let his enemy capture and torment him. Notably absent is any mention of Saul’s spear. For much of his story, Saul and his spear seem inseparable. When Israel’s blacksmiths are lost, only Saul and his son Jonathan have spears and swords. He holds it while he sits in his house, where multiple times he hurls it at David. Feeling betrayed by Jonathan, he hurls it at him too. He’s sitting under a tree holding it when he orders the murder of priests in Nob. The last we read of the spear, he’s sleeping next to it when David steals it away in the night, then returns it to prove (yet again) he means no harm.
There’s an old saying: when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Saul’s tool of choice was a spear, so every problem – real or imagined – looked like a target. Ironically, on the day Saul met David, the shepherd boy told Goliath: “the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear” – a lesson he never learned. His preoccupation with David’s imagined treachery, and his insistence on solving the problem by running it through, undid Saul and nearly undid Israel.
We might not run around with spears, but we can become so focused on our own ideas that our view of the world narrows to a fine point good for little but stabbing at perceived enemies. When our dedication to a philosophy, a cause, a goal, or a relationship crosses the line from commitment to zealotry, we lose perspective. Those who don’t agree with us – or simply don’t share our enthusiasm – become targets instead of people. Principles are good; obsessions are dangerous.
Trying to view the world through the lens of a single creed, political party, social movement, or motivation pushes most of the world out of focus. God created the big picture. To love it all, we must get out of our own heads to see it all.
Comfort: You have something to learn from everyone, and they have something to learn from you.
Challenge: Meditate on how you may have pigeon-holed your thinking.
Prayer: Lord, I seek to love all your creation. Help me see it clearly. Amen.
Discussion: What do you think Saul might have done with his spear after David gave it back? Why?
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