Guest Lectionary Reflection by the Rev. Andrew Buchanan
Proper 12, Year B
July 25, 2021
2 Samuel 11:1-15
Here we have a familiar story from the Bible: One day King David saw a beautiful woman, the wife of one of his soldiers. David not only had an affair with this woman, Bathsheba, but they conceived a child. Unable to cover up his adultery, he ordered her husband Uriah to the front line of battle, and then withdrew support. It’s premeditated murder. David then marries Bathsheba.
It’s a shocking story. David is beloved, he’s the great king—it’s the golden age in Israel’s story, until this incident disrupts things. If only David had done the right thing.
Doing the right thing isn’t always easier than doing the wrong thing, it’s often harder—but doing the right thing is always simpler than doing the wrong thing.
In the middle of the last century a Dutch theologian named G.C. Berkouwer wrote a shelf-full of books on all the major topics of theology. His book on holiness is skinny (193 pages) with large print, about 22 point font. You could probably read the book from 15 feet away. The book is short because righteousness is simple. Holiness makes sense. There’s not much to say about doing the right thing.
But then Berkouwer wrote a book on sin. It’s 599 pages, written in 10 point font—with long footnotes, hundreds of them. And at the end… Berkhawer says: Sin cannot be explained.
Why can’t sin be explained? Why is there never a rationale for sin? Because it’s insanity. Sin is madness. Ecclesiastes 7.25: So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly.
And yet, nothing is beyond God’s redemption. Next week we’ll see how God is not finished with either David or Bathsheeba. From both (Matthew 1.7) comes a line of kings, leading to The King: Jesus.
There are different words in the Bible for “fool”—but in general a fool is someone who doesn’t believe in God, doesn’t trust God, someone who tries to do it on their own. A fool puts himself before God, thinks he knows better than Psalm 14: The fool says in his heart: There is no God. And Psalm 14 warns the believer that we might find ourselves oppressed by such a person for our faith. What are we to do? Verse 7: Focus on the source of our salvation.
In this lovely short prayer, Paul expresses many hopes for his readers—not least of which is that we would be strengthened in our inner being, through the Holy Spirit. Based on this passage, one of the early writers in Christianity commented, almost as an aside, that the Holy Spirit is the “soul of our souls.” When we are weak, worn out, tired, exhausted—it is God’s pleasure to strengthen us (both naturally and supernaturally) through the Holy Spirit.
John 6 is lengthy—and it will take five Sundays to exhaust the depth and breadth of the “Bread of Life” passages.
In today's passage, Jesus has become a popular teacher—crowds are flocking to him and they are hungry. Testing his disciples, Jesus asks how they’ll feed the crowds. Philip says it’s not possible, but then the Apostle Andrew does what Andrew does best. Whenever we see Andrew in gospels, he is introducing people to Jesus (John 1.41; 12.22). On this occasion, Andrew introduces a boy with five barley loaves and two fish—and the result is the feeding of the five thousand.
It’s often noticed that we cannot convert people to Jesus—we can however, make the introduction, and let Jesus take it from there, and even work miracles.