Year A – Lent 4 – 1 Samuel 16:1-16

1 Samuel 16:1–16 –  The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2 Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” 4 Samuel did what the LORD commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5 He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’S anointed is now before the LORD.” 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” 10 Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen any of these.” 11 Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” 12 He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

Summary – This passages tells of the “anointing” of David by Samuel. David is the least of Jesse’s sons and not the one who would have been chosen as the quarterback of the football team. But we are told the criterion of God: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” As a result of God’s selection and the anointing, the Spirit of the Lord was on David.

Insight – Hannah (Samuel’s Mother) prophesied in song that Samuel “will give power to His king; He will lift up the horn of His anointed.” This is the very first use of the term “Messiah” (in Hebrew). Samuel would anoint with Spiritual Oil, the King. Messiah or Christ (Greek) simply means “anointed king.” When Samuel did it, we learn that those who would reign are not mighty in the flesh like Saul, but rather they are mighty in heart. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth of David spoke and plucked psalms, hymns and war songs of praise to the true God. That is the basis for his many victories, the first of which is the story in the next chapter (1Sam. 17). David said to Goliath: “You come against me with a dagger, spear, and sword, but I come against you in the name of Yahweh of Hosts . . . and this whole assembly [faithless Israel in the flesh] will know that it is not by sword or by spear that the LORD saves, for the battle is the LORD’s.”

Child’s Catechism – What does Messiah mean? God’s anointed King.

Discussion – What did God see in David’s heart? What does God see in your heart?

Prayer – O Lord, You are the discerner of hearts, you look beneath our outward appearance and see your image in each of us. Banish in us the blindness that prevents us from recognizing truth, so we may see the world through your eyes and with the compassion of Jesus Christ who redeems us. Amen.

Year B – Proper 19 – James 3:1-12

James 3:1–12 NRSV –    Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 3:2 For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. 3:3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 3:4 Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 3:5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 3:6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 3:7 For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 3:8 but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 3:9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 3:10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 3:11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 3:12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

Summary –  1) We are accountable for the official use of words (v 1). Teachers, leaders, fathers, and public representatives of all sorts can make application from this. There is accountability for leadership precisely because of the potential to lead astray those in such a leader’s care. Those who teach or publicly use words are therefore subject to a stricter judgment. The principle of accountability commensurate with influence applies to all public discourse.  2) We are accountable for the personal use of our words (vv 2-5a). A perfect person has perfect language. A mature person has mature control of his tongue. Thus, the measure of a man’s maturity is his language. 3) We are especially accountable for the destructive use of our words (vv 5b-12). Words set fires of sinfulness. Our words can be wild and untamed, like a forest fire blazing. Words destroy, not only by inflaming (witness Hitler), but they seep into us like poison. They have power, like an incantation. We can “curse” with our words.

Insight – The main current of this passage is plain in the analogies in verses 10-12. These truly need little explanation. Our words manifest ourselves. If we are in grace, we speak graciously. If we are embittered, we speak bitterly. If we are mean, we will say mean things. If we are inflamed with anger, we will say words which spew this. What is in our hearts, comes forth in our words. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Do you retaliate with your words when wronged? Do we you shoot poisoned darts from a heart of fire? Do you spread malice by subtle suggestions? Do you care for the good name of your neightbor?

Catechism – What does God require of us? (In 3:1-12)?  We are to speak graciously and in truth to care for the good name of our neighbor.

Discussion – Have you ever been hurt by someone’s words against you? How did you respond?

Prayer – Heavenly Father we praise you for your infinite justice and mercy. We ask that you grant to us that grace with which we can control our words and use them for building up others and not for tearing others down. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.