2024-06-23 - 4. Sonntag nach Trinitatis - (EN) - Pfarrerin Nicole Otte-Kempf

1 Samuel 24:1-23

predigt afrikaans

Dear congregation, to really get back at someone because we feel he or she has treated us unfairly. That's not Christian. We all know that. But it is human. Someone feels offended and no longer reacts objectively. And the news often talks about counterattacks. Tit for tat. A bomb here, a bomb there. Rarely do we hear of someone being spared.  How much hope would that bring into this world. To hear not only about disasters, but also about the rays of hope among us humans. And perhaps we ourselves and others would be inspired by this. Couldn't our world become a better place?

Then we would hear about people who are there for others when they are grieving or have lost everything in a disaster. Who bring food and comfort. Or about a woman who has been collecting money for years, giving talks in Switzerland and Germany for homeless people in South Africa. And travels around the year distributing food parcels. Just like that. Unnoticed by the world. Or about a woman who brings families together, brothers who have never been able to get along. And after many years, she dares to cautiously make contact, to let bygones be bygones in order to make new encounters possible. With good conversations and necessary talks. 

These are the stories I would like to hear. Stories where I can feel that souls meet. 

Jesus also told stories because it is easier to tell a story when you try to convey complex matters. Stories about what it is like when God’s kingdom comes. Stories with which I can still identify today. In doing so, Jesus follows a tradition. Because the Old Testament also tells us stories that happened in the way they are told, in a similar way or perhaps even in a completely different way. Stories which people have understood and passed on because they tell us something about how people treat each other or should treat each other. Mostly things don’t just happen. Everything has a story that leads up to a certain event. 

I would also like to tell you about a complex story today. It is the sermon text and I think it is important to hear briefly what happened before: Saul was king in Israel, anointed by Samuel and he waged many wars against all his neighbouring enemies. Once, when he was supposed to fight against the Amalekites on God's behalf, he did not do what God had asked of him. And from then on, it was clear that Saul's reign as king would come to an end. The rise of another was initiated, again by Samuel. He anointed the shepherd boy David as king, who could also play the harp and sometimes lift the spirits of Saul, who was tormented by an evil spirit from time to time. David was good in battle, he had proved himself against Goliath. And so it comes that Saul begins to hate David, because David was popular among the people and Saul wanted to get rid of him. Several times. This is where our sermon text begins 

Read 1 Samuel 24:1-23

When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” 

2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. 

3 And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself.[2] Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. 

4 And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 

5 And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 

6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.” 

7 So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way. 

8 Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. 

9 And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’? 

10 Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you.[3] I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 

11 See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. 

12 May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you. 

13 As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness.’ But my hand shall not be against you. 

14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? After whom do you pursue? After a dead dog! After a flea! 

15 May the Lord therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.” 

16 As soon as David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. 

17 He said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. 

18 And you have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the Lord put me into your hands. 

19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. 

20 And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. 

21 Swear to me therefore by the Lord that you will not cut off my offspring after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house.” 

22 And David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

Dear congregation, I can see David and his men hiding in the back of the cave, holding their breath because they don't want to be discovered by Saul and his men. And Saul had to relieve himself. And the men said to David: go on, this is the opportunity. And David could have invoked the prophetic oracle. Behold, this is the day of which the LORD has said to you, 'Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as you please. David sneaks up with a knife in his hand. And he asks himself: should I do it or not? There are the small and big conflicts in my life, people who infuriate me. And I feel the temptation to cross sacred boundaries that I have set for myself. And to harm the other person, whatever the cost. To take what is legally mine. That, dear congregation, is called revenge. But David only cuts the corner of Saul's skirt, his heart pounding, and he rebukes his men. 

David dares to take his own step. Courageously he follows Saul as he leaves the cave. 

To resolve a conflict, you need the right time. God provides it here. And both parties must be prepared to listen to the other: David kneels before Saul. He addresses him as father, as lord, as king of Israel. Saul weeps because he realizes that power, violence and revenge are not the way to peace, also not to inner peace. He listens to David and realizes that he is bitter and trapped in bitterness. And I ask myself: where am I as entangled as Saul, twisted up in myself, that I can't manage to break out of my behaviour? Sometimes you know exactly that a certain reaction is not right and yet you are trapped in your own thinking.

Because David brings God into play and places him between himself and Saul as judge, it is possible for him not to harm Saul. Saul knows that David will become king. And David swears to him that he will not wipe out his family. The story could end with this reconciliation. But the peace will only be short-lived. And often enough we experience that conflicts, big and small, are not resolved permanently. We are left with moments of peace. In everyday conflicts as well as in the major conflicts of world affairs. The injustices on earth cry out to heaven. The hope remains that at the end of all days, God will be the judge, that the great day of atonement will come upon us, that God himself will create this justice, that he will set us right as perpetrators and raise us up as victims. And if it succeeds here and now and we continue to tell others about it, if these stories of peace and how we treat each other humanely and one person is spared spread, then perhaps others will be encouraged to act in the same way. 

We don't need to judge one another. Nor should we judge one another. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not let evil overcome you, but overcome evil with good. I am certain that our world could become a better place.

God establishes justice. 

And the peace of God, which is greater than any peace we can make, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen

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