When I reflect on this majestic sunset, I thank God for this striking tree line aflame with red and golden hued-leaves. Enhanced by the waning sun and the dark green background of Maine evergreens, it brings to mind the splendid imagery of the Shepherd King, David, in the Old Testament, as he addresses Almighty God. As His servant, David attributes to our Lord His dominion over all creation. Perhaps before this Sunday’s Lunch, you could read a Scriptural passage and some insights I share below in thanksgiving for God’s faithful presence to His people in the past, in the present, and for the ages to come!
First, I ask you to seek out a place of peace and solitude. I want you to reflect on the heartfelt words of David… so you can bring to mind thoughts within yourself – your own spiritual insights. Share them as husband, wife, father, mother, or friend to those in your midst. With Thanksgiving just a few days away, your witness testifies to the preeminence of God in your life and household. Truly, we come to know ourselves through sharing our thoughts and memories. Pictures and Scripture can help us if we slow down and turn our considerations inward.
18Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that You have brought me thus far? 19And yet this was a small thing in Your eyes, O Lord God; You have spoken also of Your servant’s house for a great while to come. May this be instruction for the people, O Lord God! 20And what more can David say to you? For You know Your servant, O Lord God! 21Because of Your promise, and according to Your own heart, You have wrought all this greatness, so that Your servant may know it. 22Therefore You are great, O Lord God; for there is no one like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23Who is like Your people, like Israel? Is there another nation on earth whose God went to redeem it as a people, and to make a name for Himself, doing great and awesome things for them, by driving out before His people nations and their gods? 24And You established your people Israel for Yourself to be Your people forever; and You, O Lord, became their God. 25And now, O Lord God, as for the word that You have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, confirm it forever; do as You have promised. 26Thus Your name will be magnified forever in the saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel’; and the house of Your servant David will be established before You. 27For You, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to You. 28And now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this good thing to Your servant; 29now therefore may it please You to bless the house of Your servant, so that it may continue forever before You; for You, O Lord God, have spoken, and with Your blessing shall the house of Your servant be blessed forever.” (2 Samuel 7:18-29)
Thinking about David’s life, I remind you that he was a shepherd. Visually, he confronted life by being keenly aware of the changing seasons that affected his sheep. As God’s steward, he cared for his sheep. He saw the green pastures and obscure valleys of life. As a soldier, he was adept in keeping watch over the landscape in search of lurking enemies. The Old Testament Book of Psalms reflects his poetic prayers; they reveal the liturgical ceremonies throughout the festive Hebrew liturgical year. In short, David viewed life from the perspective of his many insights and memories. In turn, his outlook can refresh us amidst the difficult and exhausting trials we may encounter. In this passage, David sees his dreams become reality. He was being called by God to leave the pastures and instead, to lead the children of Israel as their king. Likewise, God calls us to follow and serve Him each day so He can bless our households.
In this image, we can see two boats… the one in the lower left had two rowing coaches in a small motor boat with a megaphone, and the boat on the right had four students who were being coached to improve their rowing abilities. In like fashion, the coach with the megaphone brings to mind that our Lord continually guides and directs us. Daily, how often does He give us opportunities to follow Him? To heed His counsel? To place ourselves subservient to Him and to seek His will? Do we want to hear Him? Do we choose to open our hearts and spirits to Him?
In the Scriptural passage I shared from 2nd Samuel, I discern the setting to be a quiet moment when David was at prayer. In fact, he bows before the Ark of the Covenant, having moved this symbol of God’s presence from its shrine in Shiloh to Jerusalem – the center of Israel. In his imposing prayer, he calls to mind past combats, present victories, and future hopefulness. He offers strengthening to us today to be faithful as he beseeches our Lord and God to be victorious over all.
During David’s great prayer, he comes together with God and recalls His shepherding and providential care for His chosen people… His pilgrims. Consider how our God Who led His flock from captivity in Egypt steered them to the Promised Land. Without a megaphone or separate boat, God’s presence was felt and understood by David. In turn, may we follow David’s behavior and remain committed souls. May God enable us to row past craggy streams and guide our hearts and spirits; let us remind ourselves of His mighty acts in our voyage to His Kingdom. May we be at peace and stay part of His Body. May we seek His blessings within our households and families. May we share them with those whom He places in our path.
And what value is this to us? Like David, we are not worshiping a God Who lives only in the past. This week, we began our Lenten journey leading to the Nativity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we embark on our voyage to recall and celebrate the birth of “Emmanuel” (Greek for “God is with us”), let us seek to navigate our lives towards God, the Lord of the past, the present, and the future. Let us choose Him as our guide. David trusted Him. May we also follow Him until our trip has reached His safe harbor… His everlasting Kingdom. May we remain with Him always… with courage and loyalty.
”28And now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this good thing to Your servant; 29now therefore may it please You to bless the house of Your servant, so that it may continue forever before You; for You, O Lord God, have spoken, and with Your blessing shall the house of Your servant be blessed forever.” (2 Samuel 7:28-29) Amen!
[Photos taken by Fr. George Tsahakis]