In our previous post, we looked at some of King Saul's blame-shifting tactics, and now we come to consider Saul's narcissism and rage. When Saul's desires were frustrated, he lashed out at others. In the story of Israel's war with the Philistines at this time, Samuel...
Being made in the image of God gives us innate value. One of the clear evils of abuse is disrespect for the image of God in people. Rather, God created us as incredibly precious creatures, and to love and cherish a person involves holding high regard for this being God made.
One of the beautiful things about Jesus’ engagement with Mary and Martha was his respect for their boundaries after Lazarus died. Even though he was the Son of God, a recognised teacher with a large following, and a man, he still asked for permission to enter into their emotional world. Even though he hadn’t done anything wrong, he listened to and respected the pain his actions had caused. He asked for consent.
What does it mean to cherish someone? It’s a word that is often used in wedding vows, but it is relevant in all our relationships.
When Paul and Timothy wrote to the Colossians, they praised them for the love they held for all people, and that sense of holding love is like cherishing.
Yesterday we started looking at Hophni and Phinehas’s behaviour with the women who served at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. Was it sexual assault? The strong power imbalance made consent unlikely. If you missed it, you can read about it here. Hophni and Phinehas...
“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”
It is a completely normal response to suffering to wonder if God cares.
Honestly, he has a whole world to manage. A whole universe. And in that world are literally billions of people. Billions are, in fact, suffering. Plus he is working out plans that affect the whole human race, and those plans affect everybody’s eternal well-being.
One of the many difficult and important challenges for victims of abuse is to predict future behaviour. Is the abuser going to change? Abuse often happens in a cycle, with increasing tension until there is an episode, followed by a show of “remorse” from the abuser,...
How can I be a friend to someone in need? The psalmist wrote:
May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
One of the most difficult challenges for a victim of abuse is to be believed. Even by their friends. Abusers play on it and often use tactics to perpetrate further abuse through other people. These third parties are colloquially known as “flying monkeys”, reminiscent of the servants of the Wicked Witch of the West. Some might be only too glad to join in on hurting someone, but many will be innocent and unaware of the way they are being used.
When God spoke to David about building a temple, 3000 years ago, he promised to make a place of sanctuary for his people. “Wicked people will not oppress them anymore,” he said.
In that passage, the name God uses is still “Yahweh”, given at the time of the Exodus. The mission hasn’t changed either. He also calls himself “the LORD Almighty”, or, Yahweh/Lord of Hosts. It’s the same name Hannah uses when she cries out to God in the agony of her domestic violence: yet another person crying out against oppression.
“Blessed are all who fear Yahweh, who walk in his ways”
The Old Testament has a pretty long list of instructions on how to live well. While many are about relating well to God, most are about how to care for each other, and how to create a society where people thrive. It includes many instructions about caring for the poor and vulnerable, preventing homelessness, looking after refugees and immigrants, food security, respect for property, and making restitution.
When people lived by those rules, it meant they treated each other with dignity and respect. A broad commitment to ethical behaviour meant things went well in their society, and in Psalm 128 that’s particularly reflected in the family.