From the Second Book of Samuel:
David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, throwing stones and flinging dust at him.
(From the Daily Office Lectionary – 2 Samuel 16:13 (NRSV) – August 17, 2013.)
Today’s Old Testament reading describes part of what happened during the conflict between David and his rebellious son Absalom. Making his way from Hebron to Jerusalem, David is accosted by a Benjamite, Shimei the son of Gera, who curses and berates him, throws stones and dust at him, and predicts disaster ahead.
It is accompanied by a reading from the Gospel of Mark describing Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem:
Those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Mark 11:10-11)
Quite a contrast, isn’t it? But here’s the thing, neither Shimei’s curses of David nor the Jerusalem crowd’s praises of Jesus accurately predicted the future. Although David’s son Absalom died in the conflict, and to a father that would be disaster, David did not; his rule as king over Israel was long and prosperous, and is considered a “golden age.” Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem would end in less than a week with his death by crucifixion.
That’s something to remember. The voices all around us, whether critical or flattering, whether damning or praising, do not foretell our future. As irritating or pleasant as they may be, they are of little import. What matters is the voice within. What matters is what we tell ourselves and what we believe we hear of the Voice of God, that still small voice that is often drowned out by the irrelevant shouting along the side of the road.
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Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.