Wed, 12 February 2020
(1Kgs.11:4-13; Ps.106:3-4,35-37,40; Mk.7:24-30)
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
Jesus speaks these words to a foreign woman, a pagan Greek, who “beg[s] Him to expel the demon from her daughter.” They seem harsh. Some may interpret them so. After all, in our gospel we find Jesus traveling to the northernmost part of Israel where “He retired to a certain house and wanted no one to recognize Him.” And here comes this foreign woman to beg at His table… Can He find no peace? But though the Lord may be weary, He is not angry. He but tells the truth: He has come for the lost sheep of Israel; it is only after He is gone that His followers will bring His salvation to the ends of the earth. First, “the sons of the household” must be fed. All in proper order. Notwithstanding this, the woman’s great faith prevails upon the Lord – and probably greatly heartens Him – and her prayer is answered.
It is in the application of the quote to King Solomon that it becomes harsh, for is this not what David’s son has done? Has he not taken the greatest of blessings the Lord has heaped upon or will heap upon any man, and turned them over to the devil? Solomon, the wisest and richest of all kings, “did evil in the sight of the Lord,” and that unreservedly – and that without compunction. It is only for the sake of his father David that the Lord does not wrest all His gifts from him that very day. You say, “But didn’t David sin greatly in committing adultery and murder?” Yes, the servant of the Lord did sin. But this king humbled himself ever before his God. He repented with a whole heart, and did not return again to his sin. Solomon recognizes no sin. Scripture says nowhere he is sorry; his repentance is lacking. And his sin is of the most grievous, the most deeply rooted kind: he turns to worship of other gods. In his reign and by his leadership, the people “sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons,” taking thus the very flesh and blood of the children of Israel and throwing it to the dogs.
For this “the Lord grew angry with His people, and abhorred His inheritance.” For they perform abhorrent acts under him who had become a most abhorrent king. This king who had received six hundred and sixty-six gold talents a year in regular payment showed himself comfortable with the mark of the beast unto whom he had turned his heart. “His foreign wives who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods” he preferred to the love of the Lord; and so it is he who is cast from the Lord’s presence.
Our psalm says of the Israelites, “They mingled with the nations and learned their works”; the great works of sin known in the darkness of this world became their own. But in our gospel it is a foreign woman who humbles herself before the True King. What of us, brothers and sisters? Where does our allegiance lie? For His Word does now travel to the ends of the earth; one can now no longer hide.
O LORD, cast the demons from our midst
that we might find a place in your kingdom.
YHWH, your chosen ones lose their blessing when they turn from you to the worship of demons; and those who were far from your favor have demons cast from themselves when they beg your grace at the feet of your Son. It is but a crumb from His table we need to find our salvation. May He turn His attention to our need.
The children of the promise lose their inheritance when they sacrifice their sons and daughters on altars built to the idols of the nations. Led by Solomon in their disobedience, they are deprived of the kingdom you bestowed on them. And now, by your great mercy, O LORD, those who had been enslaved to demons now may enter your presence and find your favor; those with whom your Chosen had mingled and so lost their way now have their inheritance blessed as they humble themselves before you. O let us be in their number!