July 15, 2012
Second Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
Our bishops have cut an interesting piece from the middle of the story of how David brought the Arc from the house of Abinadab to the City of David. Uzzah, one of the men carrying the Arc on poles, put his hand on the Arc to steady it, a well-intentioned move which angered God, who struck him dead on the spot. That made David afraid to bring the Arc to the City; so he had it taken to the house of Obededom. When nothing but good things happened to Obededom, David decided it was safe to continue the procession bringing the Arc to the City of David. I love the image of David leaping and dancing before the Arc as it is carried along. But his wife Michal hated the sight, which led to a hugh family quarrel not included in our reading. Why do our bishops keep cleaning up our stories?
Paul probably did not write this letter addressed to the Christians at Ephesus (a Greek city in Asia Minor). Of the several theories about the authorship, I hold the one that the letter was written posthumously be a disciple of Paul who was able to consult and use parts of several letters actually written by him.
The Paul of this letter, be he historical or a reconstruction, writes from a prison, probably from a prison in Rome shortly before his martyrdom. He has unshakable faith that he and all who trust themselves to God will enter into glory. This Paul seems to know he is soon to die, but he is reconciled to worldly death and is at peace.
The first and person pronouns in our reading are confusing. The “we” who are redeemed through Christ’s blood are all the people of the earth. The “we” who were the first to set our hopes in Christ are the Jewish Christians, in contrast to “you,” the gentile converts to Christianity.
Arthur H. Cash is a historian and distinguished professor emeritus, State University of New York at New Paltz.