Bible Study: Proper 10 (B) – July 15, 2012

Discussion Leader: Jeannie Babb, Sewanee

“She rushed back to the king and requested, ‘I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’ The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her.” (Mark 6:25-26)

The Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) readings: 
2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 and Psalm 24 (or Amos 7:7-15 and Psalm 85:8-13); Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:14-29

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19

These passages first describe David and his company taking the ark out of the home of Abinadab with great rejoicing, then state that God blessed the household of Obed-edom “because of the ark.” The change of household names alerts the careful reader (or listener) to a bit of lectionary sleight of hand; something is missing from the story. The lectionary artfully skips over verses 6-11, in which God is said to strike Abinadab’s son dead for touching the ark.

Both passages depict David and his entourage singing, celebrating and dancing with all their might. The second passage focuses on David and his wild abandon. If this were happening today, it would be all over YouTube. Our culture has a fascination with capturing moments when a person is so overwhelmed with joy, their reaction is completely unguarded and unscripted: military homecomings, surprise wedding proposals, and even little children finding out they’re going to Disney World.

When is the last time you experienced wild abandon?

How did you express your joy?

Psalm 85:8-13

What does it mean when righteousness and peace kiss each other?

This portion of the psalm explores the ideal interaction between humans and God. The psalmist explores this relationship by tumbling it around, turning it inside out, and playing with abstract descriptions of God and the people. When God’s love encounters human faithfulness, then mercy meets truth. Righteousness and peace kiss. There is a meeting in the middle, a coming together. Truth springs up from the people as righteousness looks down from heaven.

Does lightning strike from the ground up, or from the sky down? Yes, yes.

Can you feel the charge of that attraction?

Ephesians 1:3-14

The language of blessing and assurance practically bubble up from these verses. God’s grace is freely bestowed on us. We were chosen before the foundation of the world to be adopted by God. This language does not imply predestination in the sense that some people are hand picked by God before creation, while all other people have no chance of salvation. To see the error of that interpretation, the reader only has to ask, who is this “we”?

In context, the first person plural pronoun does not refer to all Christians, but to those “who were the first to set our hope on Christ” (1:12); that is, Jewish Christians. The letter then refers to “you.” This second group of people heard the gospel, believed on Christ, were marked by the Holy Spirit, and thus are promised the same inheritance of redemption. The distinction between “we” and “you” refers to the early Christian formula that Christ came for “the Jew first, and also the Greek” (Rom 2:10). “We” are Jewish, “you” are not, but both “we” and “you” are set to receive the wonderful inheritance of redemption through Jesus Christ.

Mark 6:14-29

He offered her anything – no, everything – a girl could want: jewels, rich robes, palaces, even power. “Up to half my kingdom,” he pledged.

Imagine his surprise when the girl said, “Give me … the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”

Taking on her mother’s grudge, young Herodias threw away a chance at riches and power for the momentary satisfaction of enacting her mother’s revenge. Her choice caused a good man’s death, and left the poor girl with nothing to show for it but a severed head. Talk about treasures that rot!

When have you traded golden opportunities for treasures that rot? Or failed to seek your own good because you thought you had to fulfill someone else’s vision?

How have you, like the elder Herodias, passed grudges, resentment, enmity or prejudice to your children?

Have you ever found yourself in Herod’s situation? His generosity was used to take what he did not want to give. He was the ruler, but his pride would not allow him to object, “I promised you up to half of what I have, but this man’s life is not mine to take or give.” He meant to give, but instead took.

Comments

  1. Discussion Leader writes her comments on Psalm 8:8-13 or is it on Psalm 85:8-13?

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