By Debbonnaire Kovacs, Nov 18, 2015
When I saw the first of the lectionary readings for this week, I experienced the same thrill I always do on reading these words. I was first introduced to them when I was 17 years old and had been accepted into the Mt. Vernon (Ohio) Academy Echoliers as an alto. We sang a piece called “The Last Words of David,” by Randall Thompson (a composer I now know enough to know I admire immensely!)
To be precise, I’m not sure if it was that year or my senior year that we sang it, but our director was the then-newly-minted Eurydice Osterman, and we loved her…and tormented her…(Well, she was hardly any older than we were! Did we really have to obey her?) She was also one of the best choir directors I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some, over the years!
Back to the passage. The beautiful words of verses 3 and 4 in particular, in concert with the sublime music to which Thompson set them, seemed to lift my heart right into heaven. Naturally, we sang the King James Version words:
He that ruleth over men must be just,
ruling in the fear of God.
And he shall be as the light of the morning,
when the sun riseth,
even a morning without clouds;
as the tender grass springing out of the earth
by clear shining after rain.
I here append the entire passage from the lectionary, in a more contemporary version. I then urge you to go and listen to the music here (or any of the ones available there. I don’t pretend our choir sounded quite like this, but we were good, thanks to “Miss Riddy.”)
While you listen and read, think of the things over which God has set you. You may not be a “ruler over people,” but you are in charge of some things, including your own life. In what ways can the “fear of God” be like the light of the morning…like clear shining after rain”?
2 Samuel 23:1-7
These are the last words of David:
The oracle of David, son of Jesse,
the oracle of the man whom God exalted,
the anointed of the God of Jacob,
the favorite of the Strong One of Israel:
The spirit of the LORD speaks through me,
his word is upon my tongue.
The God of Israel has spoken,
the Rock of Israel has said to me:
One who rules over people justly,
ruling in the fear of God,
is like the light of morning,
like the sun rising on a cloudless morning,
gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.
Is not my house like this with God?
For he has made with me an everlasting covenant,
ordered in all things and secure.
Will he not cause to prosper
all my help and my desire?
But the godless are all like thorns that are thrown away;
for they cannot be picked up with the hand;
to touch them one uses an iron bar
or the shaft of a spear.
And they are entirely consumed in fire on the spot.