The Sacred that tears our darkness apart (1 Samuel 16; 1 Peter 2,11-3,7) /Morning Prayer, Wednesday after first Sunday after Trinity, Book of Common Prayer
It is not accidental that in the Rule of Saint Benedict books like that of Samuel is not recommended for night readings. There is too much cruelty in it that might upset the minds of the younger monks. In view of this cruelty there are some significant details in our text.
Saul as king is despised by the Lord. Now there is a search to find the new king whom God shall reveal. ‘And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Sameuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. Then Ssamuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.’
David as a young man, almost child, is not yet socialised into sin, the collective sin of history. Such a start contrast… He does not come ‘from among arms’, but from a modest background, almost ‘from nature’.
The moment of anointment is significant. God makes the person ‘pure’. In the moment of consecration he is set apart, he is exempt from the blindness caused by the violence (bloodshed) of the age. This is the meaning of the Sacred, belonging to God. In the act of consecration and anointment, we can see in a more clear way.
As a contrast, Saul’s soul got wounded by the cruelty and killings in which the whole epoch was entangled. This is today’s main danger: step by step we are sinking into a dark age of terror, that of perpetuated violence.
Art and beauty emerge as a healing side to our darkness. The evil spirit that tortures Saul was not mere depression. Today we would call it post traumatic stress disorder, the almost inevitable damage caused by the reality of war. ‘And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.’ The evil spirit of the age, that of war, which we are breathing in and out daily from the news, and sadly, from our streets.
The Gospel offers healing in a more focused way. It gives healing by a new ethos of personal and loving presence. By this ‘image’, Christians can bring God into the world… Letting God be God among us, and letting the world be God’s world. Saint Peter’s words are only seemingly show Christians as passive. On the contrary, they live in the midst of the cruelty of their age, becoming a light in the darkness. And the nature of light is that it immediately dispels darkness. Good becomes discerned, and clearly seen, from evil. The rest us up to individual and collective conscience.
‘For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward. … Because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.’
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..