Lectionary Year B
August 10, 2003
II Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33

Step IV: Cross-Section

A. Primitive Christianity

(JFC) David's lamenting Absalom's death reminds us of Jesus' crying poetically over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37-39. Such sadness certainly accompanied the death of most every family member in those days as in ours. Then, Jesus pronounces in the Sermon on the Mount that, "Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted," Matthew 5:4.

B. Old Testament and Judaism

(JFC) Death has been a mystery of the first order since the beginning of time. See Genesis 27:2 where the aging Isaac tells his first born son Esau that he does not know about the time of his death. Job admits being puzzled about/with death, see 3:21, 17:7, 28:22 and 38:17, frequently leaving the topic with more questions than answers. Psalms (e.g., 49:14, 89:48, and 118:18, just to cite a few) lament death as did David in our text this week. Isaiah's (53:4) Suffering Servant was "a man if sorrows and acquainted with grief . . . has born our grief and carried our sorrows", 53:3f. Jeremiah's (31:13) God turns mourning into joy.

C. Hellenistic World

(JFC) These sometime iconoclastic intellectuals could hardly be moved by David's grief. Caring for one's son might appeal to them, but feeling deeply as mourning too long for one's military officers would certainly seem beyond their approval curve. The execution of Absalom would likely repulse them, too, crafty as it might appear.

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