December 13 – Day 13
Ornament – Staff
The page has turned to a pivotal point in our history. This chapter begins in a time when prophecies and visions were rare. An opening door may go unnoticed, but an opened womb does not. Hannah was barren. Though unable to bear a child, she carried herself before the Lord and bore her heart. So fervent was her time in Pappa’s presence, those nearby feared she was intoxicated.
No sip had she taken, yet she had drawn deep from the well of wondrous. A baby was her bounty and offering. Hannah named him Samuel, from the root “Shaul meEl” meaning “asked or lent of the Lord.”
Samuel was but a boy, when the Lord began to call his name. His hearing opened the womb of Israel to come alive with prophecy and purpose once more.
Barely weaned was he, when given his own tunic, a garment normally reserved for the priests called to minister to the Lord. In the sight of Eli, this little man who needed his tallest tiptoes to reach doorknob and table, tended to God. And the worship of this wee one, pleased Him.
Samuel was the last of the judges and the first of the prophets. It was he who ushered in the first kings and the era that followed. He was known for fighting for a people to allow nothing to occupy the throne of their hearts, but Pappa.
He was also a great military leader. When the Philistines were Israel’s greatest foe, he procured peace through the strategy of pursuing the Israelites until they were rid of all their false gods. The Philistines were overcome and waged war undone.
Samuel labored for the welfare of a people and listened for His God. He is considered (alongside Moses and Aaron) as one of the men of our story who answered each and every time he was called upon. Whether sober message or urgent sending, Samuel was God’s to open and offer.
Being sent, would find Samuel in the fields of Bethlehem with a shepherd boy, who had also felled Philistines. Beneath sky, upon soil, a prophet anointed a king to come. Samuel knew what it was to have a enormous call when still small in stature. And so, he held David’s scepter for a different day, for he would only learn to wield it through the weight of his staff.
David, the shepherd faced down a giant with sling, stone and staff. This shepherd, yet a boy, knew what was needed for battle. His ‘mattah’ (Hebrew for staff) had history. For this wasn’t just tool for keeping sheep tended and tethered. No, it was also a branch, carved with the testimony of David’s tribe and tale. Upon it was inscribed Pappa’s great goodness and brought blessings. One day, it would be passed down through David’s line, from generation to generation, as an inheritance and “journal”. The staff was storied.
The he took his staff in his hand . . . and with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. 1 Kings 17:40
When David took his staff into battle, he most likely thought of the times he had used it to fend off wild animals, preying on his sheep. But even more, I think he remembered every testament, song and psalm he engraved upon it, as his flock rested by still waters. Armed with wondered wood, he must have read aloud to Goliath, from his hoped history.
He who wrote Psalm 23 gave staff and rod magnanimous mention. I wonder if his moments with Goliath caused such recounting.
The rod and staff, they comfort.
Rod shares the same Hebraic word used for Torah or “the Word of God.” And the staff? It held the resume of who Pappa was to David. Comfort for any calamity.
David didn’t rely upon his skill; he shared his story. His staff would be passed to his generations, his story through every generation.
Did the shepherds at Migdal Eder (the birthplace of Jesus), recount his stories as they watched and waited? Sheepmen, once most esteemed in their communities and families, were in that day, considered the lowest of the low with the arrival of agriculture and business opportunities. Once the inheritance and bounty of the firstborn, with greater provisions at hand, the job of shepherding was given to the second or third born.
It was the second and thirds who watched for the Only Begotten. Such as these are made for Advent. Need for them may not have been great within community, but they were Heaven’s great necessity on a dark night that would be pierced by the immensity of light.
What if they had listened to the wail of the world and abandoned the tower or the giant voices that spoke little to them? Oh, what if they had agreed with the insults, the enemy of love and cast down their call? They would have missed the great reward of being the first to see, the first to fall at his feet, the first to recognize and rejoice.
When they saw Him, swaddled in manger, in the place where they sheathed their sheep, the ones without blemish, they must have been wrapped in wonder. Here lay a Lamb, sent for slaughter, a Shepherd, sent to die for those He tended, and a King, whose crown would cause knees to bow and tongues to confess.
Samuel’s mother fought fiercely for his life to be. When the Philistines saw David before them, they said:
“God has entered our camp! We’re lost. There was no such thing yesterday or the day before.” 1 Samuel 4:7
The Philistines didn’t just see God, they saw El Shaddai, for they described the One that came as a Mother, wrapping Her arms around Her young child. One who would fight the fiercest army for Her child.
El Shaddai nurses, nourishes and nurtures. She also protects and pounces on anything that comes against the ones She is given to care for.
Sundown 4 – REVEAL
The fourth candle of the Menorah represents God’s Glory revealed. It calls to the reflectors of His Glory.
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Arrested and arranged by this scripture. Freedom is first the finding. Broken chains and open cells are the tokens of discover and delight. The curtain of conceal perforated and punctured, allowing swathe of light and love.
Light, the usher of beauty. Beauty, the herald of tangible and touched. The reveal of “with us” comes here. The allure spills out. And our stories become plays upon the stage of hope and help’s cry. Our tales allow mess and majesty, tempt and triumph, to resurface and rest. And we become the delicate display of cracked open hearts, not cavernous, but catalyst. Our genesis and generous, the exhibit of His goodness.
Our seed becomes sound that sings over the world. For every great thing breathed from Him is birthed, broken and beautied. Sky houses brilliant boulder and tiny torches. Soil cushions creation cathedrals. All had need of light first. Then glory began to grow.
We are light planters and dark piercers.
Tonight is about increase. His increase within us that can’t help but spill out because we are not an impoverished people bound to a taskmaster. No, we are a generation freed by that which we carry from the treasure trove of Heaven.
BEATITUDE (Let this be our attitude)
Blessed (abundant) are they who hunger and thirst for His will, for they will be satisfied.
‘Mala’ is the Hebrew word for “satisfy” and its meaning declares the abundant goodness aligned with blessed. To “fill” is to place a precious stone into the setting of a bracelet, necklace or crown. The satisfied are restored. Lack is filled with what was always intended. To be satisfied is a quest for Him, with Him that unmasks an unnamed hunger or thirst, quenched by His unending supply.