123: Proper 10B (July 12, 2015)


For Sunday July 12, Proper 10, Year B.


Episode 123 Proper 10B
image:  David Dances Before the Lord With All His Might
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 123 for Sunday July 12, Proper 10, Year B.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • 5-week interlude through John is coming July 26-August 23. Wearing God sermon series.
  • Vacations

Quickfire Scripture: Ephesians 1:3-14 God’s adopted children

  • Often used to justify and substantiate the theory of election or predestination- George Straup, Feasting on the Word
    • Affirms the grace of God is beyond our wildest imagination or understanding
    • God’s will is sovereign, grace is given because God chooses not in response to what we have done. God cannot control how we respond to grace
    • God’s grace, for Christians, should be seen through the lens of Jesus Christ. Christ is our guide in response to grace
    • Election is not a right but a gift from God as all faith is a gift from God
    • Election does not make Christian special, but assigns to them a special responsibility, “”when God calls someone, God calls that person to come and die”
  • Great opportunity to renew covenants and baptismal vows
  • Ultimately about God’s love for us.

Featured Musician - “The Voice of Praise” by Rob Leveridge, from his album “Dancing on the Mountain”

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Primary Scripture - Mark 6:14-29 The death of John the Baptist
Initial Thoughts

  • “The Silver Platters” Brady Bunch Band
  • Not the death of John the Baptist, but a recollection of John’s death
  • Context: Not Herod the Great, but his sons
    • Mark 3 has the Pharisees consorting with the Herodians- we have now graduated to Herod himself
  • Herod’s response to Jesus’ ministry and especially the ministry of his followers
  • Dual extremes of the Gospel from eager delight and Spirit-filled discipleship to anger, rejection and outrage

Bible Study

  • Who is Jesus? Jesus and the Early Church by Willi Marxsen
    • First of 2 times this litany of “who is Jesus” appears in Mark. The other being Mark 8 where Jesus questions his disciples.
    • When people encountered Jesus - they encountered the divine and did not know how to resposo they used the language at hand to interpret what they were experiencing: John the Baptist, Elijah, Son of Man, Son of God, Messiah, etc.
  • Resurrection of John the Baptist
    • Pheme Perkins (NIB vol. 8) suggests not bodily resurrection but taps into traditional Jewish martyr literature in which the martyred righteous one comes back to torment their oppressor/executor. Very possible considering v. 20
  • Death of John the Baptist
    • Differs a lot from the account of ancient historian Josephus
      • John was taken prisoner because of his popularity with the common people
      • John was Executed by Herod at Herod’s fortress, Machaerus, on the Eastern shore of Galilee
    • Why the difference? Ties John to a long tradition of persecuted prophets:
      • Ahab, Jezebel and Elijah (1 Kings 21)
      • Jephthah’s daughter (Judges 11:29-40)
      • Esther stealing half the Kingdom
      • Judith beheading Holofernes (Judith 13:1-10)
    • Who asks for John’s head, Herodias’ daughter, Salome in tradition
    • Herod is more concerned with keeping his drunken and lusty oaths given to party guests and his own image than with preserving the servants of God. (His Grief does not keep him from killing the innocent and righteous)
      • Karen Yust Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary - Feasting on the Word – Year B, Volume 3: Pentecost and Season After Pentecost 1 (Propers 3-16) writes:
      • “Daily life also presents a series of Herod-like personal and spiritual dilemmas for persons to negotiate. For a harried mother of a toddler, there is the question of how best to love and parent a child in the face of a defiant "No!" and a full-fledged temper tantrum in aisle 6 of the grocery store at the end of a long day. For a father of three, it is the struggle to explain the importance of rearranging travel plans for a work trip so he can attend a Little League playoff game. A corporate executive wonders how her announcement of a long-awaited pregnancy will affect her employees' perceptions of her as an effective boss. A stay-at-home dad wrestles with the whispers of former colleagues that he just couldn't handle the pressures of work. Teenagers experience the angst of competing for acceptance in desirable social cliques, of serial broken hearts in the complex world of adolescent dating, of familial tensions over privileges and responsibilities. Younger children long for popular toys advertised on television, worry about parental fights and the potential (or actual) breakup of their families, and wonder if the trouble they have learning multiplication tables or basic grammar means they are stupid. Across the lifespan, persons question who they are and how they should act as life pushes and pulls them in conflicting directions. And as in the story of Herod's struggle, there are lives at stake as they decide which actions they will take.”
  • Foreshadowing of Jesus’ own death
    • Speaking truth to power does not end well for most prophets
    • Powers that be would rather kill the innocent than be embarrassed

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • How do we, like Herod, allow our own images or reputations or foolish promises to keep us from following the Gospel of love?
  • How often do we (as both individuals and churches) prefer status quo and social stability over prophetic truth-telling?
  • Herod is responding to the works done in Jesus’ name. How often do we do good works in Jesus’ name instead of trying to own it ourselves? How much more vital could our ministry be if we remove ourselves, our church, our denomination from the equation and simply act in the name of Jesus?

Psalm 24 with  Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist)

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Second Scripture - 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12-19 David’s dance before the ark
Initial Thoughts

  • Another time the lectionary editors got it mostly right. Avoid the strange side trip to Obed-Edom’s house, but including verse 12 then doesn’t make sense. So either go with 1-19, or 1-5, 14-19.
  • This is a story of David bringing the ark to Jerusalem. If you are going to talk about the sidetrack and difficulties of getting it there, it might be appropriate to include 6-13, but still might be better if left explained by the preacher instead of read verbatim.

Bible Study

  • The Ark
    • From The Common English Study Bible, p. 428: “The Hebrew word translated here is ‘chest,’ (traditionally ‘ark’) appears over 200 times in the Bible, and all but a handful refer to a gold-covered box symbolizing the presence of God in the midst of Israel… Israelite tradition observed that the chest was built under the direction of Moses in the time of the wilderness. From that time throughout the biblical story, the chest symbolized the presence of Israel’s God, Yahweh. Later Jewish tradition believed the chest also contained a jar of manna and the rod of Aaron… The concept is that Yahweh (the Lord), who is Israel’s king, sits invisibly enthroned above the winged heavenly creatures on the top of the gold chest. This enthroned God is also the commander of heavenly forces… In 1 Samuel 4-6 the chest is captured by the Philistines [but things don’t go well for them when they have it, so they send it back.]”
  • This story is told very similarly in 1 Chronicles 13-15. While Chronicles usually ‘cleans up’ the story of David, the delay is actually much more extended.in this telling. Chronicles is largely understood to be a less authoritative historical source, but reading these chapters could help understand the theological understanding of what David was trying to accomplish.
  • Ark establishes some important things about David:

1. David as Warrior. The manifestation of the fact that God is on David’s side. The ark was the symbol of Israel’s victories and holy wars. By controlling the ark, David controls the heavenly army.
2. David as Priest. By removing the ark from the custody of a priestly line (and one of the priests dies in the transfer) David becomes the spiritual custodian of the people’s relationship with God.
3. David’s City as Capital.

  • Moving the capital Jerusalem was a shrewd political step, since it was in neither Israel nor Judah, but an independent, and not very prominent, city that he could conquer and mold.
  • Moving the ark was an important step in consolidating power in the capital.
  • “David was rightly concerned that his Jerusalem-based administration be unnderstood as their to the political and cultic traditions of both Israel and Judah, and more specifically as a linear continuation of Saul’s kingdom. His most obvious step to achieve this was the transfer of the Ark.” (Maxwell Miller and John Hayes, A History of Ancient Israel and Judah, p. 171.)

4. David as devoted follower of God. This story has a personal as well as public aspect. David reveals himself to be an enthusiastic worshiper of God. Though he is not a perfect servant, he makes it clear that he understands that his source of strength is God, not the other way around.
5. David as Divinely Ordained King. David is not just the King of Israel and Judah, he is God’s anointed. The procession is seeped in sacrifice and ritual, and helps establish the relationship between David and God.
6. David as provider for the people. The worshipful procession was not complete until every man and woman was given meat, bread, and raisins.

  • The sad story of Michal
    • Michal is depicted as little more than a pawn in the political machinations of men.
    • “Michal had boldly dared to love David and to make that love known. Yet, David is never said to have loved her, although marriage to her was politically advantageous to him. Three times Michal is given to a mn as wife for political reasons (to David in 1 Sam. 18:27; to Paltiel to spite David in 1 Sam 25:44, and to David again as price of alliance with Abner in 2 Sam 3:14-16). In all of this we lose sight of her love, for love was not allowed a role in such political matters.”
    • Michal is Saul’s daughter, and that is remembered. By the end of this passage there is no longer love for David, only distaste. She is dispatched at the end of the passage in v. 23, and it is clear that Saul’s line ended with her.

Preaching Thoughts

  • What voice can we give to Michal other than that of traditional reading of “nagging wife getting in the way of the man having fun”? Is this a redeemable story? Lift up that Michal once saved David’s life, taking his side in the battle against her father. Statement that Michal had no children doesn’t square with 2 Sam 21:8. Some manuscripts say that David had five sons of Saul’s daughter Michal, others say Merab (all were killed by David to officially end Saul’s line). By calling her “Saul’s daughter,” instead of “David’s wife,” the writer reveals the extent to which Michal was little more than a pawn in the political games. Although she once “loved David,” that love was never returned. And by this time, her love was gone as well. Despite being an important player in the saga, she is basically removed in this passage. “In readings Michal’s story, we do well to examine our own refusals of love for the sake of power, our own disregard of women’s interests as irrelevant to the public interest, our own efforts to honor the Lord while not fully honoring the priorities to which the Lord has called us” (Bruce Birch, New Interpreter’s Bible, v. II, p. 1252)
  • “It is plausible that the dance of David expresses the ambiguity we have already articulated. David’s dance, on the one hand expresses a genuine act of religious vitality, of genuine worship, making himself available to Yahweh’s power, purpose, and presence. On the other hand, the extravagance of David, even personal, bodily extravagance, may be a political act to express profound solidarity with Yahweh in the new establishment. The foundation of the new regime and the founding of the new shrine around the ark most likely share in the ambiguity,” (Walter Brueggemann, Interpretation: 1 and 2 Samuel, p. 250-1). Brueggeman goes on to point out that the day is both one of wonder and joy and despisement. It is this ambiguity that marks the whole of David’s career. It is an ambiguity which often makes people uncomfortable. It is an ambiguity that needs to be revealed.

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

Thank you listeners and Shout-Outs
Featured Musician - “The Voice of Praise” by Rob Leveridge, from his album “Dancing on the Mountain”


Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Summertime”) and The Steel Wheels for our transition music(“Nola’s First Dance” from their album Lay Down, Lay Low) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).

The Lion and Lamb Festival is seeking musicians and speakers. Already featuring friends of the show Heatherlyn and Sarah Renfro. Other participants can apply now. The Festival’s vision is to bring people together to inspire and be inspired by stories of peace, mercy, justice, and love. It is August 8, 2015 in the Quad Cities, Illinois.