I started reading First Samuel again. I'm struck by so many things especially in light of the world today. The Philistine caught my attention in particular. Hard not to when if I pay any attention to what is going in the Middle East these days. See, I'm intrigued and trying to understand the culture in a new way. So, I Googled the Philistines...besides going back to the 12th or 13th century BCE the city Gaza caught my attention.
I've grown up hearing about Gaza in the news and 25 years ago had the blessing of studying Israel/Palestinian relations in school as well as the UN Seminar through the Christian Church in Ohio. I was struck back then by the depth of conviction each side had that they were "right". I was used to then and even more now...change. Today I watch as politicians are locked in mud with short vision and shorter memories. So many people around me have no understanding of their own past nor the history of our country these days. So conviction doesn't carry the weight of history for me as it did/does in the arguments of the Middle East.
Looking at scripture and reading of the battles between Israel and the Philistines and places like Gaza it is clear that the Middle East is more complicated than I can understand. We're talking about people who can trace their family trees and lives back centuries and know the history of the land like I know fairy tales.
I live in a place of peace that has barely been touched by war and that war has become a romantic memory to be relived 150 years later as if it were elegant. It was a bloody hellish thing that scarred our country and destroyed lives. But we don't recognize that...we block it away. I grew up with WWII veterans, but they didn't tell stories. I saw them in their eyes as black shadows would cross their worn and weathered facees, but stories were rare. They sheltered us from the ugly.
Violence, hatred and ugly is not something you can hide from in the Middle East. And it goes back centuries into a history we barely even consider relevant. The NRSV uses the phrase "The Philistines mustered for war against Israel" as if it was something they hungered for. It was ingrained in the life of the people.
Lent....a time to know God. A time to grow closer to God. A time to really understand my faith which means looking at the depth of cinviction, history and scripture. I can not fully understand Jesus on a cross if I don't understand the meaning of Messiah and I can't understand Messiah if I don't know the story of David and Israel. I can't understand the future if I stand in ignorance.