A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Upcoming Sunday Scripture Commentary - January 18

January 18 Sermon - "It Takes One to Know One"

Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

This is considered a Psalm of Praise.  It describes the Psalmist experience with God by using very personal terms.

The Psalm overall can be divided into two parts: 1) A Hymn of Praise - vv.10-18 2) A Lament - vv. 19-24 Because of the shift of mood between these two sections, some scholars believe these were two separate psalms that ended up coming together. The close tie between vv. 1 & 23 show that this may have always been a single Psalm.

This Psalm shows that God is everywhere (omniscience.) The Psalmist cannot escape God. The Psalmist speaks very intimately that God created him (vv. 13-18.)

The reference to the womb may actually refer in the original Hebrew language to the earth - see v. 13. V. 15 makes this possible connection of womb/earth.

The point is that God knows us very well. V. 18 shows us that our journey through life is connected with God in so many ways.

This Psalm is associated on this Sunday with our I Samuel reading because of v. 18, "I am still with you" and Eli's closing comment to Samuel, "It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him" - I Samuel 3:18

I Samuel 3:1-10

This begins a story about Hannah who is barren. God grants her request for a son (Samuel.) Hannah's song of praise reminds us of Mary's "Magnificat" in the Christmas story where she proclaims that God lifts up the lowly and brings down the mighty. This theme of people being brought low and others being raised up is a common theme throughout the story of Samuel and Israel in general.

This is a story that emphasizes how God initiates a relationship with us.  Even though we are told that the word of the Lord was rare in those days, this story reminds us that God was still at work.

God addresses Samuel at different times throughout the night and finally, Samuel realizes who is calling him. Even though Eli has bad eyesight, he still knows that the Lord is the one calling Samuel. Samuel tells Eli about what the Lord said to him which is Eli will be brought low and Samuel will be raised up!

This story is to have us think about how God brings low and raises up and this includes us. Like Samuel, we too experience the highs and lows of living a life of faith. How does this connect with the Jesus story which includes the crucifixion and the resurrection. So much to ponder about this!

[Note: The resources used for these scripture reading commentaries are based on the Everyone series by NT Wright, Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, The Wesley Study Bible, and the “Montreal-Anglican”lectionary commentaries.]

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