Monday, October 5, 2009

The Dumb Question

Look at II Samuel 22 from the framework of ancient Assyro-Babylonian myths that form contradistinctive roots to Semitic theology. In this nexus, it is crucial to know what the word "Deep" or the "Sea" conjures up in a mind that is essentially agrarian in nature and never a sea-faring people. Tehom  is usually translated as "The deep" or "Waters" or sometimes, essentially, as morbid "Chaos".The word crystalizes, in Hebrew thought, abject terror and absolute destruction.

     You can find this word in Genesis 1, when God created order out of Chaos, and in the Flood when God brought chaos into order. But now in II Sam 22: 5 - 18 the absolute power of God over elements is again forcefully reiterated. This is the frightening, and engulfing vortex from which David is rescued.
     The point of this whole text, in contrast to surrounding Canaanite beliefs, is that our Jehovah is more powerful than all the chaos that can wipe us in a blink.  
     Tehom in Hebrew psychology is defined by the narrowing of space (II Sam 22: 5-6) and God's power is illustrated in a rescue that frees us to a spacious place (II Sam 22: 20). At some point or the other we have each been in life situations where we could have been completely wiped out. That this has not happened shows God's power over the Chaos enemy. And these are the defining moments where the righteous shall live by faith. It was this faith that guided David to great victories.
     The next chapter, II Samuel 23, is about those 37 great warriors thru whom Israel's boundaries were expanded and protected. Could that much be accomplished by so little? But it did: Plain facts, overlooked,  from mundane history.

     Try, further, to understand this progression:
  • Chapter 22: The Power of God 
  • Chapter 23: The Power of Few. 
  • Chapter 24: The Folly of Mega-numbers. 
     Mega-numbers! Just imagine, where does the census (II Sam 24: 9) of military statistics of 800,000 men in Israel & 500,000 in Judah compare with 37 in the previous chapter? The direct thrust of the historian who placed these chapters in this succession is to tell us that value is more important than volume; that quality is more important than quantity.
     In spite of such blunt facts of scripture I still find people with the mega-mindset, asking me the dumb question -- "How many members are there in your church?" Nobody ever asked me the question, "How are the relationships in your church?" Nobody.

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