Friday, May 28, 2010

Curses and Blessings

I mentioned a few days ago that I had a few things to say about cursing blessings.  In TDP, we've been reading of
  • Balak hiring Balaam to curse the Lord's blessed people - the very people He would use (as Balaam preaches) to bring the Messiah to bless the world, the star from Jacob, the scepter holder from Israel (Numbers 24:17), and
  • the Passion of the Lord, especially as the Jewish crowd demands the greatest curse for Jesus of hanging to death on the tree.
It's also been in the Sunday readings, as sinners try to dismiss the Apostles' message at Pentecost by accusing them of drunkeness (funny, the drunks I know become less understandable).  This Sunday many will be hearing in John 8:49-58 that Jesus was labeled as a Samaritan having a demon.  What God calls good, sin labels as evil - because it knows God's goodness means the death of sin.

But, in a way, it also works in reverse as pointed out by the Hymn for Thursday and a note in The Lutheran Study Bible on Numbers 24.  I don't have it handy to quote, but the note makes the point that despite all their complaining and sin, God still made sure that His sinful Israel on the Exodus were blessed.  He declared through Balaam His love for them - even as He does in our day for us!  And so the stanza from "My Song is Love Unknown" (one of my all time favorite hymns, though I know it by this tune) is absolutely appropriate both for the New Testament reading AND the Old!  Jesus goes to suffering that He might free His foes (even OT Israel as they grumble against Him, even us).  Thus, those who are in truth evil - us, God has called good in, with, and under His Son.

Cursing what God calls blessed usually does not go well.  Just ask Balak.  My sister told this story from her classroom this year:
Johnny was reading aloud from Acts 4:26. "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed." As soon as he finished reading that verse (he had four more the read), he paused and then said quietly under his breath, "That was dumb." I asked him if I had heard him correctly, he said yes, and then continued, "What did they think they could do to God?"  I laughed when he said it!
Funny thing - God basically said the same thing as Johnny.  Acts 4 quotes Psalm 2, which then goes on to say in verse 4, "He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision."


  1. Great points! By the way, do you know what lectionary that is in TDP? Where the Psalm readings were picked? I'm curious about the history of different lectionaries.

  2. the lectionary was created for the publication of the Lutheran Service Book hymnal.
    I was told that Rev. Todd Pepperkorn was assigned the task of picking the Psalm readings for TDP.