For a number of us, in attending the ecumenical service at the Grandstand this morning, we heard Bishop Rob deliver a strong and inspiring message on the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). Those who attended Holy Communion this morning at 8:30 at St. Stephen’s, or who attended Evening Prayer this evening at 6:30 at St. John’s, got to hear a short homily, the text of which follows. The text is 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27 – it is David’s lament at receiving the news of King Saul’s death.
A priest, a pastor, and a rabbi were discussing the controversial question: “When does life begin?” The priest said life begins at conception. The pastor said it was at quickening, or possibly at birth. The rabbi said life begins when the kids leave home and the family dog dies.
I think that if that question had been put to David, he might have said, “Life begins when Saul stops chasing me.” For years he’d been on the run – no settled family life, no “putting down roots.” Yet, when Saul dies David is not joyful at his future prospects. Perhaps his greatest enemy had just died in battle, but he didn’t see it as an occasion to rejoice in. Yet David shows us an attitude of humility – he doesn’t do the obvious, seeking himself and his own prosperity above all else. He sees the tragedy in Saul’s death.
Saul had led Israel for years. Things had been better under Saul’s rule than they’d been before – people lived in a more secure state, which added to the wealth of the nation. Saul wasn’t always the best king, but he was their king. David had followed him – married Saul’s daughter, led Israel’s army – until Saul started trying to kill him. So while Saul’s death was the death of an enemy, it was also the death of an old friend. David shows himself to be about God’s business – not about simple self-promotion. David’s concern is for the whole of God’s people – participating in God’s work. What a witness!
It’s been said, of God’s people, that although they pass their days on earth, they are citizens of heaven. Oh that we would be more heavenly minded, ourselves! That we would be faithful and trustworthy and loyal not to ourselves above all else, but to His will and way – that we might show concern for ourselves insofar as our goal is to be the people that God would have us be. That we might learn to seek His will for us. Amen.