Reflections: August 13, 2020
Thursday of the Ninth Week after Trinity
By David Magruder
So they cut off his head and stripped off his armor and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people. (1 Samuel 31:9)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It ended so badly for Saul. The one whom the prophet Samuel had anointed as king over Israel dies by his own hand in the midst of a battle that he never should have fought.
Saul's death wasn't an honorable one. His body was mutilated and hung on a city wall. What was good news for the Philistines was deflating news for Israel. The dishonorable death of Saul was the sad result of his lack of fear, love, and trust in God. In fact, his last recorded meal was in the house of a medium after he consulted with a demonic spirit masquerading as the ghost of the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 28).
But that isn't the whole story for Israel. David had been anointed king (1 Samuel 16:1-13) and was alive. God's promise to have an "anointed one," a Messiah for His people, would hold true. "I will raise for up for Myself a faithful priest…and I will build him a sure house, and he shall serve in my presence forever" (1 Samuel 2:35).
God holds true to His promises. In the fullness of time He sent His Son, David's Lord and David's heir. On a cross outside a city wall, naked and bleeding for the world to see, the King of the Jews died a dishonorable death, and it was the Lord's doing. It seemed like good news to an idolatrous world hostile to the Gospel of forgiveness and life. But the death Jesus died, He died for all that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5). What seems a most dishonorable death works life and salvation for the world, and for you.
Saul's unfaithfulness and shameful death could not overcome the faithful promise of God to send a savior King. We are recipients of truly Good News that faithful messengers have preached to us: Jesus' death and resurrection have overcome the binding power of sin and set us free to live in His mercy and bear His grace to the world. We are not left to a dishonorable end. We are honored to be included in Jesus' death and to live in resurrection-to-life hope! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
I thank Thee, Jesus, Sun from heaven, whose radiance hath brought light to me; I thank thee, who has richly given all that could make me glad and free; I thank thee that my soul is healed by what Thy lips revealed. ("Thee Will I Love, My Strength, My Tower" LSB 694, st.3)
-Rev. David Magruder is pastor of Peace With Christ Lutheran Church, Fort Collins, CO.
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