Sunday, March 2, 2008

Do You Come in Peace?

I have been fascinated for several years by the Israelites and their various kings. This past Sunday's lectionary reading included I Samuel 16:1-13, when God sent Samuel to anoint David as the next king after Saul had been rejected due to his disobedience. Samuel was in danger from Saul, who was still king and wasn't entirely stable, and asked, "How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me." God gave him instructions about how to go, and he went.

More interesting to me is the response of the people to Samuel. "When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, 'Do you come in peace?' Samuel replied, 'Yes, in peace....'" It appears there was something about Samuel -- perhaps experience with him in the past, his reputation, how he presented himself, or fear of being confronted regarding a known sin -- which caused them concern.

I question whether we nurture relationships like that. Not that healthy relationships should cause reason for fear, but it is healthy to have people around us who care enough to speak difficult truth into our lives. Those can be uncomfortable relationships, and uncomfortable situations, but I'd rather deal with the anxiety than accept the risk of not having such people around me.

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