Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Fourth Sunday after Pentecost - June 17, 2018

Saint Dominic contemplating the Scriptures Saint Dominic contemplating the Scriptures
Author's note:
Sometimes I have material left over when I edit Comments down to fit the available space. This page presents notes that landed on the clipping room floor. Some may be useful to you. While I avoid technical language in the Comments (or explain special terms), Clippings may have unexplained jargon from time to time.

A hypertext Glossary of Terms is integrated with Clippings. Simply click on any highlighted word in the text and a pop-up window will appear with a definition. Bibliographic references are also integrated in the same way.

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

God’s rejection of Saul begins in 13:7-14. The Israelites are facing a vastly superior Philistine army. Samuel is late in arriving to offer sacrifice; time is of the essence, so Saul offers sacrifice. Samuel tells Saul: “you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which he commanded you ... now your kingdom will not continue”. Saul had no right to perform priestly functions. However, in 14:31-35 Saul rather than the priests seems to be in charge of the religious rites. [ NOAB]

15:1-35: Saul is depicted as a moral and religious reprobate, unworthy of the office that he holds. [ NOAB] There is probably an old story behind this chapter in which Samuel rebukes Saul for disobedience in executing the order to annihilate the Amalekites. The present text has been shaped by prophetic editing, transforming it from rebuke to rejection. [ NJBC]

15:15: “Amalekites”: The name of a people traditionally descended from Esau. See Genesis 36:12. They were a wandering tribe from southern Canaan or northern Sinai which had been constantly troublesome to the Israelites: see Deuteronomy 25:17-19; Exodus 17:7-13; Judges 6:33. Deuteronomy 25:19 directs the Israelites to “blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven” when other enemies are leaving them in peace. [ NOAB]

15:15: “utterly destroyed”: Deuteronomy 20:16-18 gives the reason for annihilating other peoples: “so that they may not teach you to do all the abhorrent things that they do for their gods, and you thus sin against the Lord your God”. Both the Israelites and their neighbours attempted annihilation, usually without complete success. The Amalekites are still troublesome to David in Chapter 30. [ NOAB]

15:22: “to obey is better than sacrifice”: Hosea 6:6 says of God: “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings”. [ NOAB]

15:23: “divination”: Deuteronomy 18:9-16 forbids it: “... Although these nations that you are about to dispossess do give heed to soothsayers and diviners, as for you, the Lord your God does not permit you to do so ...”. [ NOAB]

15:28: “a neighbour of yours”: i.e. David. [ NOAB]

15:35: There is a slight discrepancy between this verse and 19:24. [ NOAB]

16:12: “ruddy”: This is a reference to David’s complexion. See also Song of Solomon 5:10-11. [ NOAB]

16:13: This may be a counterpart to the anointing of Saul in 10:1. The “oil” used was olive oil. While priests (Exodus 29:7, Aaron) and prophets (1 Kings 19:16, Elisha) were sometimes anointed, the ceremony was more relevant to kingship, so that the king cam e to be called “the Lord’s anointed”: see 16:6 and 24:6. [ NOAB]

Psalm 20

Verses 1-5: The prayer is sung at the altar, or while approaching it. [ NOAB]

Comments: The mood changes after v. 5, so perhaps a proclamation of a prophecy of victory was made a this point: 21:8-12 is such a prophecy (oracle). This prophecy inspired the expression of confidence in vv. 6-8. [ NOAB]

Verse 1: “answer”: This is equivalent to save. [ NJBC]

Verses 1b-3: The people pray for the king not simply as an individual but as the person through whom God bestows blessing on the nation and protects it from enemies. [ NJBC]

Verse 3: “Selah”: This is probably a liturgical direction, added to the original text of the psalm. It may mean lift up, either to indicate the lifting up of the voices of the singers in a doxology, or to call for lifted-up instrumental music in an interlude in the singing. [ NOAB]

Selah is one of the greatest puzzles of the Old Testament. Its meaning seems to be connected with rising or lifting. But it is not clear whether the congregation rises or lifts up its hands, head, or eyes, or whether the music rises at the indicated points. The word probably indicates that the singing should stop to allow the congregation an interlude for presenting its homage to God by some gesture or act of worship. [ ICCPs]

Selah is also found 74 times in 39 psalms in the book of Psalms and three times in Habakkuk 3 (part of a psalm preserved there).

Verse 6: “anointed”: The Hebrew word is messiah. This is one of the titles of an Israelite king. After the extinction of the Hebrew monarchy, this became the name of the ideal king of the future, hoped-for restoration. Acts 4:25-29 (Peter and John before the Sanhedrin). [ NOAB]

Verse 9: This is a concluding exclamatory prayer. [ NOAB]

Verse 9: “answer us”: The Hebrew verb is better translated as answer him, i.e. the king. [ NJBC]

2 Corinthians 5:6-10,(11-13),14-17

Verses 1-10: Continuing to think of his sufferings and constant peril, Paul uses the figures of a “tent” and a “building from God” in speaking of death and resurrection. This “building” is the “spiritual body” of 1 Corinthians 15:44-50. [ NOAB] Very divergent interpretations of this paragraph have been proposed because of disagreement concerning the topic discussed. The majority perhaps see the problem as that of bodily existence between burial and resurrection and would interpret the images anthropologically and individualistically. The context, however, suggests that Paul is concerned with showing that the present sufferings are not a valid criterion of apostleship because the true home of all believers is elsewhere. The images, in consequence, should be interpreted existentially. [ NJBC]

Verse 1: “earthly tent”: The image highlights the impermanence and fragility of the human body. [ NJBC]

Verse 1: “is destroyed”: i.e. by death as the culmination of sufferings. See 4:8-9, 16. [ NJBC]

Verse 1: “we have”: The present tense expresses a certitude. [ NJBC]

Verse 1: “a building from God”: Its symbolizes a new existence rather than the resurrection body. Philippians 3:12-21 [ NJBC]

Verse 2: “For”: therefore is probably a better translation. [ NJBC]

Verse 3: “naked”: Paul hopes that the Lord will come again and that he will receive his new body before he has had to put off the old one.

Verse 4: In 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, Paul expresses this thought in different words. [ NOAB]

Verse 4: “are still in this tent”: i.e. living in this world. [ NJBC]

Verse 4: “burden”: i.e of afflictions. See also 1:6; 4:8, 17. [ NOAB]

Verse 4: “not to be unclothed but to be further clothed”: Paul hopes that the second coming of Christ will happen before he is killed. See also 1 Corinthians 15:51 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15. [ NJBC]

Verse 5: “God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee”: The “Spirit” (here and 1:22), already given is an advance installment of what is in store for Christians (see also Ephesians 1:13); God will finish what he has begun (see Romans 8:16, 17, 23; Ephesians 1:14; Philippians 1:6). [ NOAB]

Verses 6-8: “away from the Lord”: Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:12: “... now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known”. [ NOAB]

Verse 13: “beside ourselves”: In 12:1-7, Paul writes of his and another person’s “visions and revelations of the Lord”. [ NOAB]

Verse 17: Life “in Christ” is the new sphere of existence, a totally transformed way of looking at life and the world, into which one enters through trusting in Christ. It is a “new creation”, transforming God’s people and the whole creation. [ CAB]

Verse 18: “reconciled”“: Paul writes in Romans 5:10: “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life”. See also Colossians 1:20 and Hebrews 1:3. [ NOAB]

Verse 20: “be reconciled”: i.e. accept God’s forgiveness in Christ. [ NOAB]

Verse 21: “he made him to be sin”: Note that Paul does not say made him a sinner. As he says in Gal 3:13, the sinless Christ bore the burden of our sin that we might be acquitted. “Sin” may mean sin offering. See also Romans 8:3 and Isaiah 53:10.

Verse 21: “righteousness of God”: It originates in divine nature (see 3:5) acting to effect pardon or acceptance with God, a relationship that us not a human achievement. See Romans 1:17. As in Romans 5:10-11, reference to “reconciliation” intertwines with justification. [ NOAB]

Mark 4:26-34

Verses 26-29: The parallel is Matthew 13:24-40. The growth of God’s kingdom in the world is beyond human understanding or control. Yet people recognize its progress and play a part in it. [ NOAB]

Verse 28: “of itself”: NJBC offers without visible cause.

Verse 29: Joel 3:13 says: “Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great”. [ NOAB]

Verses 30-34: The parallels are Matthew 13:31-32 and Luke 13:18-19. The beginnings of God’s kingdom are small, but it has an inherent nature that will grow to its intended end, startlingly different in size from its beginning. [ NOAB]

Verses 30-32: The coming of God’s kingdom is inevitable; therefore there is no need for discouragement or impatience regarding its coming. [ NJBC]

Verse 32: “the birds of the air can make nests in its shade”: In Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar has a dream in which he sees a tree: “The tree grew great and strong, its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the ends of the whole earth. Its foliage was beautiful, its fruit abundant, and it provided food for all. The animals of the field found shade under it, the birds of the air nested in its branches, and from it all living beings were fed” (Daniel 4:11-12). See also Daniel 4:21 and Ezekiel 17:23; 31:6; Psalm 104:12. [ NOAB] [ Blomberg] Perhaps the gathering of the Gentiles into the kingdom is foretold. [ NJBC]

Verses 33-34: Matthew 13:34-35 tells us: “Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: ‘I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world’”. [ NOAB]

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