Tue, 16 January 2018
(1Sm.17:32-33,37,40-51; Ps.144:1-2,9-10; Mk.3:1-6)
“You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar,
but I come against you in the name of the Lord.”
“The battle is the Lord’s” is the simple truth David proclaims to all those who stand in arms. To “all this multitude,” he declares “that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves.” Thus with David’s defeat of the Philistine giant is emphasized what has already been revealed in the anointing of this ruddy youth as king and the loss of that kingship by the tall-in-stature Saul: the exalted are humbled and the humbled exalted. For God blesses those who make Him their “rock,” trusting not in their own wealth or strength. “My refuge and my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, my shield, in whom I trust, who subdues peoples under me,” David chants in praise of the Lord in his holy psalm. And so should we all take refuge in the Lord, and find strength in praising His Name.
And in “hoping to be able to bring an accusation against Him,” do not the Pharisees come, too, with sword and spear against God’s holy one today in our gospel? And do they not make this violence clear in their turning “to plot with the Herodians on how they might destroy Him”? They are defeated in battle by the Word of truth which issues forth and indeed is embodied by the Christ of God, Jesus, Son of David, Son of God. They cannot contradict the authority of His teaching or the blessing of the healing He brings from the Father on high, but yet they harden their hearts and close “their minds against Him,” seeking to confirm their trust in the warring hand of this world in the capture and crucifixion of their Savior. But the battle is the Lord’s, and their attempts to destroy Him shall prove the fruitlessness of such trust in violence – indeed, their killing Him with sword and spear shall be the instrument which leads to His resurrection, bringing the dawn of new life in whose light death itself, and the pride of man, shall be destroyed forever.
Let all know it is the Lord who fights for those whom He loves, those who trust in Him and His ways, who seek to do good and not evil, to “preserve life” and not “destroy it.” The question Jesus poses to the Pharisees He presents to us: do we cherish the saving power of the Lord of life and take refuge and joy in Him, or do we reach for the weapons at our side to destroy Him? The posturing of this world is vain, for it is God who holds life and death in His Hand.
O LORD, you save us from the clutches of evil men.
YHWH, the battle is yours. You strengthen our hands against the enemy and give victory to your chosen ones. Despite the plots of those who surround us with evil intent, despite the might of the armies arrayed against us, you give confidence to those who trust in you, for with you the faithful soul triumphs over the powers of this world.
You deliver us in the day of battle, dear God; you are our refuge, our stronghold, and by your hand we destroy those who come at us with closed minds and hardened hearts, railing against your holy One. They cannot stand before your awesome power – their swords and spears are broken by the Word that issues from your mouth.
The head of the snake shall be cut off, crushed by the feet of your lowly ones, and we shall sing your praise, O LORD. Forever we shall be preserved from the violence of the enemy.