From the OT lesson for Tuesday in the week of Proper 6B (Pentecost 4, 2015)
1 Samuel 6
10 The men did so; they took two milch-cows and yoked them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home.
11b They put the ark of the Lord on the cart, and the box with the gold mice and the images of their tumors.
Although Scripture is replete with images of and references to the greatness and magnificence of God, every so often we come across these little gems displaying God’s humility. The Philistines, who have captured the Ark of the Covenant but found it a dangerous possession, inquire of “the priests and the diviners” what to do about that, how to rid themselves of this thing that is causing them tumors. “The priests and the diviners” tell them to put it on a cart pulled by milch-cows and send it home (the cows, apparently, will know the way). So that is what they do. And, sure enough, the cows take the cart to Beth-shemesh in the country of the Israelites; it is met by Levites who take charge of its cargo. ~ It’s a strange little story but what grabs my attention is the detail of the homely milch-cows. Given other stories of the God of the Hebrews, you’d think something more grand would have been called for. One should note that the priests and diviners consulted by the Philistines were probably not those of Israel and their opinion of the Hebrew God might not have been high has God’s own people’s…. still, if God were insistent upon all the pomp and circumstance the Bible usually demands for God, putting the Ark on a cow-drawn cart might have had serious repercussions! The story suggests to me that the religious royal ostentation we usually read about in Old Testament is of human, not divine, origin. It suggests to me that just as love is understood to be central to God’s Being, so to is humility. In fact, it reminds me that there is an unbreakable link between love and humility. Love is impossible without humility. ~ I do hope all of us gathered in Salt Lake City for the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church will remember that!