Day 116: II Samuel 19-21, Psalm 96, Acts 11

By Rt. Rev. Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham

Seeing what God is doing, discerning the reality of God in the midst of the busyness of the world, is such a challenge. This bit of David’s life is full of the chaos of high politics and low treachery. It is similar to many countries today. Back the wrong person, give in to human impulses, rebuke the ruler, and you are in grave danger. This is the chaos that followed the fall of Baghdad in 2003.It takes us straight to a tale of normal humanity. David wants to mourn his son but must congratulate his troops. Joab deals murderously with anyone who challenges his power. David faces aging and weakness. In the Acts, the greatest theological revolution since the Exodus, the opening of Christian faith to Gentiles, has to be swallowed by an astonished Jerusalem church. Busyness is not an enemy, it is a reality. St Benedict calls for us to find stability in the midst of anything, and stability is found in God alone. David’s actions are horrific in modern terms, but he is not in modern terms but a man of his time, whose genius is that he kept his eyes on God, even amidst the troubles of war. The psalm puts the answer. In starting with the glory of God we find the source of stability.

What is your experience, whether making big decisions, or under immense pressure and even danger, of still staying aware of God’s purposes?

Chaos and evil do not deny the presence of God but they certainly test our ability to see Him. Have you a group of friends who will strengthen you when weary and fading, like David? If not begin to seek such a group.

“All the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord has made the heavens”. Strengthen me, Oh Lord, to seek you as the one who does not fail, and to cast aside idols of security and safety for the presence that is eternally with you.

The Rt. Rev. Justin Welby is the the Bishop of Durham