Next Sunday’s texts are: I Samuel 17:32-49; Psalm 9:9-20; II Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4: 35-41.
The lectionary readings might be summarized in the following caption: “The Power of God’s Salvation.” These readings cover every aspect of the multi-faceted, multi-dimensional, many-splendored reality of salvation.
In the reading of I Samuel 17, we see that the salvation of God is personal, political and spiritual. It is little David’s personal triumph over a bully of a giant. It is Israel’s political victory over the naughty, terrorizing Philistines. It is also God’s spiritual victory over the sins of power and presumption: “… for the battle is the Lord’s …” If that is so, the outcome is decided in advance of the fighting; still, we must fight as if everything depends on us. It is marvelous how God owns the battle without destroying, depressing or discouraging human responsibility, initiative and accountability. The battle belongs to God; still, we must put forth a maximum effort to win it!
In Psalm 9, the salvation that is given to us of God is celebrated as social reconstruction and economic redistribution of opportunity. God is here depicted as Vindicator of the Oppressed. God takes human oppression seriously enough to challenge its presumptions, pride and power. The oppressors of the world are caught and destroyed in the very entrapments and conspiracies they have set against others. The oppressed must always resist the hopelessness that comes from deifying oppressors and absolutizing evil. “Let the nations know that they are only human.” Evil, injustice and oppression are no match for the salvation of our God!
In II Corinthians 6:1-13, we see God’s saving hand at work in ecclesiastical affairs — especially when the church ventures boldly into the arena of public affairs. The church had little power or respectability in the Roman Empire, yet it bore the truth, treasure and tradition of a salvation — liberation that Caesar could not withstand and Rome could not defeat. The saving power is not in human numbers, advantages and privileges, but it is in God’s own determination to save us in spite of us.
In Mark 4:35-41, we notice that the salvation of God is cosmic. The sea is a representation of pre-cosmic chaos, threatening to prevent cosmos, order and life. Even as in Genesis 1, the Word of God and the Spirit of God prevailed over primordial chaos, so in Mark 4, the Word made Flesh prevails over the cosmic chaos that dared Christ and His Church to advance the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ ability to sleep during the storm is indicative of His confidence in the face of fierce danger and opposition.
C. G. A.