December 14, 2008

My mind doesn’t always wander. Sometimes it flits. Like the Sunday I was in some zone and came back to reality just in time to hear our Assistant Rector, the Rev. Margaret Bates, say, “…according to your commando, father.” This caught me off guard. Who in the Bible had a commando? I knew God had angels, but commandos? And then I remembered 1st Samuel, Chapter 18, where King Saul offers David his daughter’s hand in marriage in exchange for 100 Philistine foreskins.

You might think the Philistines would not part from these willingly, and you’d be right. Saul’s idea was that the Philistines would object in a clear and forceful way, kill David, and Saul would be rid of a pesky rival for his throne. But David, ever the over-achiever, goes off on a commando raid and brings back not 100 but 200 Philistine foreskins, and presents them to the king. Ta da.

I have a lot of questions about this story, none of which were answered in Sunday School. First of all, who on the field of battle collected these? I’ll bet it was an enlisted man, and he wasn’t issued latex gloves. And what did he gather them in? A bag? A basket? A gift box? We can be fairly sure it wasn’t a cooler. And when the harvest was presented at the palace, who checked David’s math? Surely not Saul himself. Did he call in an accountant, or did he blink and say, “Whoa, 200, I’ll take your word for it.”

And what happened next? Maybe the king hit a gong and said to a servant, “Here, take these.” Assuming they weren’t spirited off to the royal taxidermist, I’m thinking they made their way down the organizational chart until some poor sap on the bottom row had to bury them. “And bring back the basket!” I was pursuing this line of thought when the opening chords of the next hymn brought me back to the 21st century.

Later at home, I re-read the bulletin and saw that the quote that started it all was “…according to your command, O Father.” Well, that cleared up the “commando” thing, but I’m still at a loss regarding the rest.


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