Psalm 105:1-7; Judges 16,17; Luke 22:14-23

Psalm 105:1-7: It’s really too bad we don’t sing (or at least read) the Psalms at Saint Matthew any more. They really cry out to be read aloud. And the opening verses of this psalm beg to be spoken or sung:

Acclaim the LORD, call out His name,
make His deeds known among the peoples.
Sing to Him, hymn to Him,
speak of all His wonders.
Revel in His holy name.

Acclaim. Call out. Sing. Hymn. Speak. All involve the use of our voices, not just our eyes. For how can we keep God’s magnificence to ourselves? And then, what’s next? Revel. Have a party; get up and dance.

And what are we acclaiming, calling out, singing, hymning, speaking about? God’s deeds and God’s wonders. “Deeds” means that God is in action among his people. Again and again in the psalms, not to mention the narrative of the Old Testament and the Gospels, Acts and, I think, Revelation, God is active among us. If we look we can see the evidence everywhere in changed lives, in evil that is transformed to good. This is not to be pollyannish about the state of the world; there is still plenty of evil out there. But imagine how dark would be a world where a Living God was not active.

And then, God’s wonders. This is what the preceding psalm was all about: the wonders of God’s creation from beneath the earth and seas up through the rivers, mountains and valleys and out to the stars. From the tiniest insect to humankind itself. There’s indeed plenty to sing, hymn, acclaim. And to revel in.

Judges 16,17: So, what can we say about this famous story of Samson and Delilah? There’s probably no better story that illustrates the relational dynamic of man and woman where God has been ignored. Samson has “fallen in love” and the Philistines know they can use Samson’s sexual weakness to their advantage and Delilah seems to be an enthusiastic member of the plot. There is no true love here, only intended betrayal (by pieces of silver!) to employ Delilah’s raw sexuality accompanied by her clever and incessant wheedling. Samson’s “secrets” (the bowstrings, the rope, being held down with the web) are his less-than-clever attempts to show off in front of his enemies.

Samson’s moral weakness leads directly to his physical weakness. And that’s the lesson here for us. Our exterior gifts and abilities must be rooted in moral and spiritual strength. And those come only from God. But this is also a story of God’s faithfulness. Even though Samson abandoned God, God did not abandon him and was there to answer Samson’s final prayer, “Lord God, remember me and strengthen me only this once, O God,” (16:28)

As for the story of Micah and his mother, I am fairly befuddled as to why it’s here or what its deeper meaning might be, other than as an example of “In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes.” (17:6)  The connection to the preceding story must be the 1100 pieces of silver given to Delilah to betray Samson suggests that Micah’s mother was Delilah, but the text gives no other indication. Micah has stolen his mother’s money, admits to her that he’s taken it and returns it to you. His mother promptly uses it to have an idol cast out of some of the silver.

An itinerant Levite comes along, and if we are looking for an example demonstrating that the priestly clan drifted as far from God as everyone else, we have it here. The Levite becomes the “priest” for the idol. Lesson? Just because someone has been ordained or is thought to be “holy” does not make them so. Alas, so many contemporary examples abound.

Luke 22:14-23: The familiar words of the institution of the Last Supper are bookended by two remarkable statements by Jesus: First, he says, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;” (15), saying he won;t be dining with them until “it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (16) By this time, the disciples have surely figured out that the political kingdom they assumed was coming probably wasn’t and now their leader, whom they loved, was apparently abandoning them. Then the familiar words. “My blood?” “New covenant?” I know if I were there I would be befuddled, confused and starting to get angry. Surely, these had to be the feelings of the disciples.

Then, after saying the words we know well, Jesus announces that one of them will betray him. And a verse I’ve never really seen before: “But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table.” (21) Was only Judas’ hand on the table or did some or all of them have their hands on the table? The fact that “they began to ask one another which one of them it could be who would do this” suggests there were many hands on the table when Jesus made his statement. 

So, we could take two meanings out of Jesus’ cryptic announcement. Yes, Judas had his hand on the table and would indeed betray Jesus and “woe to him”. But also, the other hands on the table were disciples–surely Peter–who would betray their Lord in other ways. Denial and cowardice to be sure. And “woe to us.” I think the subtext here is that Jesus is telling us that everyone of us will all deny him in one way or the other. Not just the other disciples, but all of us. Yet, through grace, we will always be invited back to his table. As we are every week.

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