Meditate is a monthly column in which insights gained from meditating on the Word are shared. This month, Chelsea finds reflection of a core aspect of our minds in a couple seemingly unrelated stories in the Old Testament. As usual, we welcome your insights, too, in the form of comments or even your own article. —Editor
“Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, ‘Where is the Lord God of Elijah?’ And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over” (2 Kings 2:14).
“It happened after this that the king of the people of Ammon died, and Hanun his son reigned in his place. Then David said, ‘I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father showed kindness to me.’
So David sent by the hand of his servants to comfort him concerning his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the people of Ammon. And the princes of the people of Ammon said to Hanun their lord, ‘Do you think that David really honors your father because he has sent comforters to you? Has David not rather sent his servants to you to search the city, to spy it out, and to overthrow it?’
Therefore Hanun took David’s servants, shaved off half of their beards, cut off their garments in the middle, at their buttocks, and sent them away. When they told David, he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, ‘Wait at Jericho until your beards have grown, and then return’” (2 Samuel 10:1-5).
“In general [the children of Ammon] are people whose worship is external and to some extent appears holy, but is not internal. They are also people who take up the things which belong to external worship as goods and truths but reject and regard as worthless those that belong to internal worship…People with whom such good exists are interested solely in the external features of worship and doctrine, and despise, reject, indeed are utterly averse to the internal; and as a consequence they have falsities instead of truths” (Arcana Coelestia 2468).
I was particularly struck (oh, what a pun) with how Elisha takes up the mantle of Elijah and strikes the water and it parts. He takes action while simultaneously asking the “affirmatively doubtful” question, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” I like that. How often are we asked to take action while also asking that question, and indeed good things happen—but we are not given total confirmation of God’s presence in our work before we take the action. That’s a first thought. You could stop there. But here’s another on this collection of passages if you want to keep reading.