Scripture Commentary for August 12, 2012 by Arthur H. Cash

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PROPER 14
August 12, 2012

FIRST READING
Second Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33

David loved his son Absalom, who was beautiful, charismatic and shrewd. Absolom killed David’s oldest son, his half brother, for raping Tamar, Absalom’s full sister. Revenge it might be, but the killing put Absalom next in line for the throne. David had grown old and feeble, but he didn’t die. Absalom couldn’t wait. He fomented a rebellion, raised an army and attacked Jerusalem. But David, the wiley old fox, outwitted him in warfare. The events in our reading take place during the final battle, clearly being won by David’s general, Joab, himself all too ambitious.

I am bothered that in this new lectionary the bishops sometimes piece together widely separated passages to make the lessons they want us to hear.

SECOND READING
Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2

Most of this lesson speaks for itself, an exhortation to be moral in one’s conduct. But the closing lines contain a puzzling image: Paul speaks of the horrible crucifixion of our lord as a “fragrant” offering to God. He is using the language of Temple sacrifices. For instance, one of the sacrifices done at the Temple was of a bull, killed, cut into pieces and the whole “turned into smoke…an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the Lord” (Leviticus 1:9. See also 3:5; 8:21; 17:6).

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