What's ahead in the Bible readings for this week
The Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
RCL Proper 14, Catholic Proper 19
The Twelfth Week After Pentecost
August 9 to 15, 2018
The illustration this week is of an angel feeding Elijah after he had gone to a broom tree and laid down to die. God still has a mission for him, and he eats the food, which sustains him for forty days as he travels to Mount Horeb. The scripture for this is 1 Kings 19:4-8, which is the complementary series Hebrew scripture for Sunday. It really applies to all of us, because somehow, God will find a way to care for us even when we are ready to give up.
Gospels and Epistles
Our Gospels for this week continue the theme of bread. In the Sunday reading from John, Jesus again tells us that he is the bread of life, and that all who partake of this bread will have eternal life. The Wednesday reading fills in the verses that were left out of the Sunday reading. In them, Jesus promises that he will raise up on the last day all who believe in him. The Saturday reading is the familiar Scripture that begins "Ask, and it will be given to you." Notice the ending, where Jesus says that if we who are parents will give our children bread when they ask for it, rather than a stone, or fish rather than a scorpion, how much more will our God in heaven give good things to those who ask.
Our Epistle lessons have a series of admonitions. The Friday reading from Galatians has this admonition: "So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith." Another comes on Sunday: "Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you." And on Tuesday: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
Complementary Hebrew Scriptures
There's a lot of drama in the backstory of the Hebrew Scriptures in the early week.
Just before the Sunday reading starts, Jezebel learns that Elijah has defeated the prophets of Baal. Four hundred fifty prophets of Baal tried to call down fire on an offering of a bull and could not do it. Elijah had the people pour water over his offering then called on God, who burned the bull, the stones, and the water. He had the people seize the prophets of Baal and took them to the Wadi Kidron (where he had been staying) and killed them. When Jezebel learns of this, she sends a message to Elijah "so may the gods do to me and more if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow." In verse 3, he flees from Jezebel and leaves his servant behind at Beersheba. Our text begins with verse 4.
Just before the Thursday reading from 1 Samuel, Saul, the king, has consulted a medium, the woman referred to in the scripture. Saul had driven all the wizards and mediums out of his kingdom, but he was in a desperate situation and did not know what to do. He wants the advice of the prophet Samuel, who has recently died, so he calls on the medium to bring Samuel forth. Samuel tells Saul he has disobeyed God and that he and all his sons will die. This is why he falls to the ground in the first verse of our reading.
The context of the Friday reading is Absalom's revolt against his father David. (See the summary below under the Semi-continuous heading.) Hushai, whom we meet in the first verse of the reading, was a confidant of David. He has pretended that he has abandoned David and taken Absalom's side. Ahithophel was the commander of David's army, and has in fact deserted David and taken Absalom's side. Ahithophel advises an immediate pursuit of David. Hushai persuaded Absalom to gather an army before pursuing David. When our scripture opens, Hushai is arranging to get a message to David. Ahithophel realizes that Absalom has made a fatal mistake and that he (Ahithophel) will pay for his abandoning David. That's why he hangs himself.
In the Saturday reading, David's death is drawing near. He instructs his son Solomon concerning Joab and Shimei. Joab was the commander of David's army. Abner fought against David for one of Saul's sons to become king. In a battle, Abner was pursued by Joab's younger brother; he tried to avoid killing the brother but ultimately had to in order to save his own life. Abner was soon disillusioned with the Saul's son and, along with the leaders of the northern tribes, came over to David. This united the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. Joab, however, was unforgiving and killed Abner. After Absalom's revolt, David made Amasa head of his army in place of Joab. Again, Joab murdered him. David remembers Joab's treachery and instructs Solomon to make him pay for it with his life. Shimei was a relative of Saul's and cursed David when he was fleeing from Absalom. David spared his life, but remembered the curse even on his deathbed.
Semi-continuous Hebrew Scriptures
We have more of the story of David, some of which is also in the complementary series readings. As often happens, we aren't reading the story in order, so here is a summary in order:
- 2 Samuel 13:37-14:24 Joab arranges with a wise woman to get David to allow Absalom back in Jerusalem. (Thursday semi-continuous)
- 2 Samuel 14:25-33 David forgives Absalom for killing Amnon. (Friday semi-continuous)
- 2 Samuel 15:1-13 Absalom usurps David's throne.(Saturday semi-continuous)
- 2 Samuel 15:13-31 David flees Jerusalem in the face of Absalom's revolt.(Monday semi-continuous)
- 2 Samuel 17:15-29 David, warned of a trap, escapes from Jerusalem. Soshi, Machir, and Barzilla bring food and supplies for David and his army. (Friday complementary)
- 2 Samuel 18:19-33 A messenger from the army comes to tell David that Absalom is dead. (Tuesday semi-continuous)
- 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33 David laments Absalom's death. (Sunday semi-continuous)
- 2 Samuel 19:1-18 David comes from mourning Absalom to sit at the city gate. Israel and Judah want David back. (Wednesday semi-continuous)
- 1 Kings 2:1-9 David instructs Solomon to follow the Lord and instructs him about his (David's) enemies. (Saturday complementary)
Links for the week ahead
Thursday to Sunday Psalms
Complementary Psalm 34:1-8 Taste and see that God is good.
Semi-continuous Psalm 130 My soul waits for the Lord.
Thursday: Preparation for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary 1 Samuel 28:20-25 Food for Saul and his servants.
Semi-continuous 2 Samuel 13:37-14:24 Joab arranges with a wise woman to get David to allow Absalom back in Jerusalem.
Both Romans 15:1-6 Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony.
Friday: Preparation for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary 2 Samuel 17:15-29 David, warned of a trap, escapes from Jerusalem. Soshi, Machir, and Barzilla bring food and supplies for David and his army.
Semi-continuous 2 Samuel 14:25-33 David forgives Absalom for killing Amnon.
Both Galatians 6:1-10 Don't grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time if we do not give up.
Saturday: Preparation for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary 1 Kings 2:1-9 David instructs Solomon to follow the Lord and instructs him about his (David's) enemies.
Semi-continuous 2 Samuel 15:1-13 Absalom usurps David's throne.
Both Matthew 7:7-11 If we human parents give good things to our children, will God not give good things to those who ask?
The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary 1 Kings 19:4-8 An angel brings food and water to Elijah.
Semi-continuous 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33 David laments Absalom's death.
Both Ephesians 4:25-5:2 We should forgive one another, as Christ has forgiven us.
Both John 6:35, 41-51 Jesus says, "I am the bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever."
Monday to Wednesday Psalms
Complementary Psalm 81 Hear while I admonish you. I would feed you with the finest wheat and with honey from the rock.
Semi-continuous Psalm 57 In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge.
Monday: Reflection on the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary 1 Kings 17:1-16 Elijah predicts a drought and God sends him to the widow of Zarephath.
Semi-continuous 2 Samuel 15:13-31 David flees Jerusalem in the face of Absalom's revolt.
Both Ephesians 5:1-14 Renounce pagan ways and live as children of the light.
Tuesday: Reflection on the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Ruth 2:1-23 Ruth gleans from Boaz' field.
Semi-continuous 2 Samuel 18:19-33 A messenger from the army comes to tell David that Absalom is dead.
Both 2 Peter 3:14-18 Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.
Wednesday: Reflection on the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Jeremiah 31:1-6 You will plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria and enjoy their fruit.
Semi-continuous 2 Samuel 19:1-18 David comes from mourning Absalom to sit at the city gate. Israel and Judah want David back.
Both John 6:35-40 Jesus says, "I am the bread of life. On the last day I will raise up all who believe."
*Denominations have different ways of designating the weeks during the year, so your church may refer to this week by a different name. Regardless of the name, the readings are the same. Here is an explanation: Calendar Explanation
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Thanks for reading. I hope you have a blessed week.
Selections from Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 1995 by the Consultation on Common Texts.
Unless otherwise indicated, Bible text is from The New Revised Standard Version, (NRSV) copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All right reserved.
Image credit: Elijah Fed by an Angel by Ferdinand Bol, via Wikimedia Commons. This is a public domain image.