David’s Keening

January 22, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings center on the themes of grief, honor, and mercy.

In the passage from 2 Samuel, Saul has been killed in battle. The news is brought to David by a scheming Amalekite who (later verses reveal) hopes to profit from his enterprise. He has stripped Saul’s dead body of its kingly insignia, obsequiously depositing it at David’s feet. The messenger expects David’s vengeful rejoicing and a hefty reward.

Instead David, with reverence and honor appropriate to a future king, launches a deep public mourning for Saul and Jonathan. It is a bereavement necessary to both cleanse and heal the community’s heart from all the strife leading up to it.

David seized his garments and rent them, 
and all the men who were with him did likewise.
They mourned and wept and fasted until evening 
for Saul and his son Jonathan, 
and for the soldiers of the LORD of the clans of Israel, 
because they had fallen by the sword.

2 Samuel 1:11-12

David’s lament is profound; it is”splancha”, sprung from his innards, like the anguish Jesus felt for the suffering persons he encountered, as described in our Gospel.

A callous or indifferent heart cannot comprehend such pathos. Seeing it in Jesus, even his relatives thought him insane!

Jesus came with his disciples into the house.
Again the crowd gathered,
making it impossible for them even to eat.
When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, 
for they said, “He is out of his mind.” 

Mark 3:20-21

Our God is a God of boundless love
and impractical mercy.
David models a bit of that godliness.
Jesus is its complete Incarnation.

Poem:  David and Jonathan by Abraham Crowley, an English poet born in the City of London in 1618. He was one of the leading English poets of the 17th century.

Still to one end they both so justly drew,
As courteous Doves together yok'd would do.
No weight of Birth did on one side prevaile,
Two Twins less even lie in Natures Scale,
They mingled Fates, and both in each did share,
They both were Servants, they both Princes were.
If any Joy to one of them was sent;
It was most his, to whom it least was meant,
And fortunes malice betwixt both was crost,
For striking one, it wounded th'other most.
Never did Marriage such true Union find,
Or mens desires with so glad violence bind;
For there is still some tincture left of Sin,
And still the Sex will needs be stealing in.
Those joys are full of dross, and thicker farre
These, without matter, clear and liquid are.
Such sacred Love does he'avens bright Spirits fill,
Where Love is but to Understand and Will,
With swift and unseen Motions; such as We
Somewhat express in heightned Charitie.
O ye blest One! whose Love on earth became
So pure that still in Heav'en 'tis but the same
There now ye sit, and with mixt souls embrace,
Gazing upon great Loves mysterious Face,
And pity this base world where Friendship's made
A bait for sin, or else at best a Trade.

Music: Lascia Ch’io Pianga (Let Me Weep)- Georg Frideric Handel – a single piece of beautiful music today in two version, an aria and an instrumental interpretation.

Julia Lezhneva – soprano


Stjepan Hauser – cellist

Lascia ch’io pianga
la cruda sorte,
e che sospiri
la libertà.
Il duolo infranga
queste ritorte
de’ miei martiri
sol per pietà.

Let me weep
cruel fate,
and sigh for
liberty.

May sorrow break
these chains
Of my sufferings,
for pity’s sake.

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