Psalm 139:1-6; 2 Kings 2:19-3:27; John 21:1-14

Psalm 139:1-6: The NRSV translators of this justly famous “David psalm” title it “The Inescapable God.”  It is also a beautiful description of the qualities of God’s omniscience. No matter what we are doing or what time of day it is, God knows exactly what is going on inside our heads and hearts: “It is You Who know when I sit and I rise, / You fathom my thoughts from afar.” (2)

When God searches; He finds us even when we try to escape him and He knows our habits as well, “My path and my lair You winnow, / and with all my ways are familiar. (3) Perhaps the idea about God that should give us greatest pause is that he knows what we are going to say before we say it: “For there is no word on my tongue / but that You, O LORD, wholly know it.” (4) Would that I remember this verse before I open my mouth to make a cutting or thoughtless remark…

Of course God knows all about our innermost thoughts an being because we, after all, His creation, “From behind and in front You shaped me, and You set Your palm upon me.” (5).

But as created and not Creator, there are things to great for us to know or understand–or control: “Knowledge is too wondrous for me, /high above—I cannot attain it.” It is this simple reality that we refuse to accept and our overweening pride that we know–and can control–everything leads to the disasters we so ably create. To accept this verse is to accept our lesser status and to be humble before the God who has created us. Why is this so hard to do?

2 Kings 2:19-3:27: As much as I would like to hold Elisha in high esteem, I have trouble because of his response to boys who taunted him because of his bald head, “he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.” (2:24) Nevertheless, he is a prophet of God and when the king of Moab decides to declare war following the death of Ahab, Elisha is called in to consult with King Jehoram (who is does evil, but not as much evil as his parents, Ahab and Jezebel) of Israel, King Jehoshaphat of Judah and the king of Edom.

Elisha does not exactly welcome them with open arms, as he says mockingly to Jehoram,“What have I to do with you? Go to your father’s prophets or to your mother’s.” (3:13). But the king acknowledges it is “it is the Lord who has summoned us, three kings, only to be handed over to Moab.” Elisha agrees and prophesies that God will fill the local wadi with water, “which is only a trifle in the sight of God.” (3:18)

The three kings defeat the Moabites who have been fooled by the sun reflecting off the water that it is the blood of the fallen Israelites and Judeans. They attack unwisely with disastrous results.

What does this passage of warmongering say to us? That even though King Jehoram continued to worship other idols, he acknowledged God, and God showed incredible mercy via Elisha. It’s God who will respond to even the smallest acknowledgment–as if He wants nothing more than to have a relationship with Jehoram, even though Jehoram is 98% not with God. That 2% makes all the difference. Unlike all the other idols who demand all and give nothing, God gives us all even when we have given Him very little.

John 21:1-14: Even though they had seen the risen Jesus in Jerusalem, seven disciples return to Galilee and take up their old job of fishing. And while it was a miracle, the implications of the Resurrection have not yet sunk in during this period before Pentecost. It’s been a rough and unsuccessful night and some guy on the beach advises them to try the other side of the boat. They do so and haul in 153 fish (gotta love the precision of this detail!), although the net miraculously didn’t break.

Suddenly, it is John himself who recognizes that it’s Jesus, who has miraculously appeared up here in Galilee. In a very humorous detail, Peter, who has been working naked, modestly puts on some clothes and then jumps into the water. All the disciples drag in the fish and they go have breakfast with Jesus, whose appearance must be oddly changed. They recognize him, but “none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?””

Although as far as the disciples were concerned it was a terrific catch of fish, the symbolism of the incident is clear to us, who know how the story turns out. These disciples will go on to found the Church at Pentecost and will haul in people, whose numbers are beyond imagining. But it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that this happens. They could not find those fish on their own; they got the fish only after Jesus told them where to look. So too for us: we cannot grow the church on our own; it is only through the Holy Spirit’s power that we know where to fish.

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