Reflection for Tuesday 14th December 2021

Jon Ellis

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Psalm 34
1 ¶ [Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he left.]
I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
2 My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the LORD with me: let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.
21 Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems his servants; no-one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.

Psalm 34, by David, is about the time referred to in 1 Samuel 21. Saul had got it into his mind to kill David. David fled to king Ashish in Gath hoping he would be safe there. Unfortunately, the servants spotted him. Their mocking cries of “Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands’?” alerted everyone. David might well have “killed thousands”, but this time he was outnumbered and frightened. He had to think of a plan.

It was an outrageous idea. He would feign madness. It was convincing. Strange actions and even frothing at the mouth. It worked and the king could not bear this behaviour in his presence. David’s plan had worked.

Have there been times in your life when your situation has been unbearable? Hopefully not frightened for your life, but when you had to find a way to escape. How did you solve the problem?

Guess what the most used line in films is? It is, “Let’s get out of here!” Since I heard that fact, I have listened out for it. It’s right, it is in lots of films. It is usually followed by a swift exit!

There are two methods of coping, fight or flight. Flight can also be characterised as ‘hide’ or freeze’. David adopted a risky plan but it worked. However, often when we are faced with conflict, it is not life or death. It is more likely to be how we respond to differences of opinion. Some people are very quick to answer back, sometimes aggressively. Others are not. Those who are quick, also seem to quickly forget it happened. While others are hurt and do not understand why it as though the conversation never happened.

Those who do not respond quickly are often left thinking, “If only I had time to think, I could have said…”
One of the big joys of church is that we have to get along with people who have different characters from ours. Different backgrounds, intellects, interests, and reactions to the things we say. As well a joy, it is also a challenge.

I was speaking to someone recently who said that they used to come to church, but two people in particular had been rude to them. They also added that it was good that so many things were happening in church at that time. Sometimes, when we are busy organising what happens in church, we do not consider fully those who think and react differently to us.

As always, be guided by the Holy Spirit, and think, “What would Jesus say or do in this situation?”

God for whom we watch and wait,
you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way of your Son:
give us courage to speak the truth,
to hunger for justice,
and to suffer for the cause of right,
with Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen