We are always preparing for something in this life. We prepare for the arrival of a baby. We prepare for the end of college. We prepare to move to a new house, a new city, or even a new country. But we never seem prepared to be separated by death. The first book of Samuel ends where the second one begins, with the death of Saul. David feels the pain of saying goodbye; in his mournful words, David declares what his heart feels. He uses instruments of war to bring to memory the meaning of Saul and Jonathan in his life. Saul and Jonathan used bows and swords with accuracy and efficiency; Jonathan’s archery skills helped David escape the wrath of Saul. (Read 1 Samuel 20:35-42.)
David’s generous praises, that include Saul, whom he had previously tried to kill, show that forgiveness is part of David’s life, since he himself had received God’s forgiveness and enjoyed God’s merciful love. In this text, David expresses a deep compassion and forgiveness for Saul, acknowledging his value to Israel as a leader, “who clothed you with crimson, in luxury.” He also expresses his love for and friendship with Jonathan.
Farewells awaken in us a variety of feelings, and it is no different with David. Although he recognizes the shortcomings of Saul and holds Jonathan in high esteem, he turns this moment of pain and memory into a song for a lifetime. Many times when we experience goodbyes in life, we encounter a myriad of feelings. Sometimes they help us grow; other times they continue to pain us. Our greatest challenge comes in dealing with each feeling in due time, taking it in and growing.
Lord, help us embrace the emotions of saying goodbye. Like David, may our memories move beyond pain to the joy of here and now. And in the midst of these feelings, may we find the certainty of your presence. Amen.
David is remembered in scripture as a mighty king but also as a great poet. Many of the Psalms are ascribed to him. In Second Samuel we find a poem, a song of lamentation over Saul and Jonathan. Saul was violently jealous of David, yet David still honored Saul as God’s anointed king. Jonathan was David’s best friend, and David bemoans Israel’s loss of these two leaders. The author of Psalm 130, although probably not David, appeals to God in David-like fashion. The Gospel reading takes us in a different direction, showing the power of a woman’s faith. In Second Corinthians, Paul deals with practical matters. The Corinthians had promised to send financial help to the believers in Jerusalem. Now that pledge needs to become a reality.
• Read 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27. When have you acknowledged, upon his or her death, the value of a person you deemed an enemy?
• Read Psalm 130. When have you cried out to God from the depths of your despair? What was God’s response?
• Read 2 Corinthians 8:7-15. When have you lost enthusiasm for a project that had originally ignited your interest and best efforts? How did you rekindle that interest?
• Read Mark 5:21-43. What has been your experience with God’s plans and timetable?
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