1 Samuel 13:23-14:52; John 7:30-52; Psalm 109:1-31; Proverbs 15:5-7
Declaring A Curse
In the reading from 1 Samuel, King Saul selfishly puts his own glory ahead of his soldiers’ welfare, declaring a curse against anyone who eats – and his son Jonathan unknowingly disobeys the decree and is sentenced to death.
In the reading from John, the Pharisees assert that the crowds who follow Jesus do not know the law, and are accursed.
In today’s Psalm, the psalmist laments that he is surrounded by enemies who hate and curse him.
When I was growing up, my father forbade me to use bad language – but he especially refused to tolerate cursing. Nothing unusual there, I imagine; it is breaking one of the Ten Commandments, after all. But he used an unusual rationale, which resonated in my nerdy brain. The reason I shouldn’t curse, he said, was that it was a sign of ignorance – and certainly I could think of more intelligent and productive ways to express myself.
Uttering a curse usually says more about the one doing the cursing than anyone on the receiving end. Whether it is pridefulness like Saul’s, self-righteousness like that of the Pharisees, or hatred like the psalmist’s assailants, the attitude of someone willing to condemn someone to eternal damnation is far from that of Jesus, who consistently showed a spirit of patience and forgiveness. Patience when a Samaritan village refused to welcome Him, even though some of his disciples wanted Jesus to destroy them. Forgiveness when Jesus prayed for those who were responsible for His death.
The psalmist said: “Let them curse, but you will bless.” Can we have the same Christlike attitude?
The Rev. Dr. Steve Clifton
Christ the King Church