It is possible to say no (1 Samuel 24; 2 Peter 2) / Tuesday after second Sunday after Trinity, Matins, Book of Common Prayer lectionary
‘The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, tostetch forth mine hand against him… So David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul. But Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way. David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, My lord the king…. See that killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee.’
These lines show David’s spirituality. Despite the darkness that engulfs him, he makes an effort to keep his ‘heart’ alive. He wants to remain faithful to that beauty and peace that marked his being as a child and young man.
The success of his spirituality is a great lesson for our age. When cruelty, terror, mistrust and divisions prevail in the world, it is possible to say no to the spirit of the age. This decision is modelled in Saul’s request and David’s response. ‘Swear now therefore unto me by the Lord, that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father’s house. And David sware unto Saul.’
It is also worth noting, in the previous passage, how this counter-cultural attitude of David disarmed Saul and brought him to repentance. ‘Is this thy voice, my son, David? And Saul lifted up his voce, and wept. And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil…forasmuch as when the Lord had delivered me unto thine hand, thou killedst me not. For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away?’
The lesson? Yes, indeed, it is possible to revert the negative currents in our life. However, it is impossible without a spiritual life (efforts) which David never gave up.
The Peter letter examines the problem from a different angle. What happens if we abandon that spirituality, the efforts of faith? ‘For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again.’
Cannot it be read as a warning, what happens to a generation which has abandoned their (previous generations’) faith? The loss of faith, unfaithfulness to the Covenant, entails a post-generational trauma. Not merely spiritual and moral ways are lost. A vital defence system: orientation and faith are lost. Self-harming replaces the vigilance of faith.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..