The Ten Commandments
20 Then God spoke all these words:
2 I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 You must have no other gods before me.
4 Do not make an idol for yourself—no form whatsoever—of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. 5 Do not bow down to them or worship them, because I, the Lord your God, am a passionate God. I punish children for their parents’ sins even to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me. 6 But I am loyal and gracious to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 Do not use the Lord your God’s name as if it were of no significance; the Lord won’t forgive anyone who uses his name that way.
8 Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy. 9 Six days you may work and do all your tasks, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Do not do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your animals, or the immigrant who is living with you. 11 Because the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them in six days, but rested on the seventh day. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 Honor your father and your mother so that your life will be long on the fertile land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13 Do not kill.
14 Do not commit adultery.
15 Do not steal.
16 Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.
17 Do not desire your neighbor’s house. Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox, donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.
Loving your neighbor
25 A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to gain eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you interpret it?”
27 He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”
Summary of No David!
The plot of No David! Is remarkably simple. Over and over we see a young child, David, misbehaving. He plays with a bat inside. He plays with his food. He makes lots of messes. Over and over we hear his mother saying tell him no or offering similar remarks. The final two pages show David feeling sad and then getting a hug from his mother who says “yes, David, I love you.”
Thoughts on the passage:
How many of the Ten Commandments can you name? When I was in the third grade this was one of the things we were supposed to memorize as a part of the Sunday school class. While I still have them memorized I can easily understand if people get tripped up from time to time. First of all, there are some similarities, then you add in fact that they use language like idolatry that we do not often hear, and finally we are just busy and it is easy to forget details, even important ones. It is understandable if we might struggle to name them all as a part of a quiz.
More important than naming the Ten Commandments is following them. These are guidelines that are a part of our covenant with God. Being faithful to God means being faithful to these rules. The good news is that following these rules can be summarized very simply, love God and love your neighbor. We know this because that is what Jesus taught us when he reminded us that all the laws fall into two simple rules, love God and love your neighbor as yourself. If we examine the Ten Commandments we see how they point us towards a love of God (the first four) or a love of neighbor (the last six).
Take a moment to think about each of the commandments. First, we should have no other gods. Love starts with a faithfulness. If we are going to put God first, it means letting go of other gods. In the same way, we are not meant to worship idols because they become like gods to us, things that we turn to instead of God. Our covenant with God is meant to be exclusive. Not taking the Lord’s name in vain is about respect for who God is. Our words matter and how we use language is important. The words we use to talk about God should not be vain or profane. We should not take lightly who God is to us. Finally, if God is important to us, then we need to show it. We have all been at dinner with someone who is not really there. Maybe they are reading, still thinking about work, or talking on the phone. Whatever the reason, they are not present with us and it is not respectful. Honoring the Sabbath is the same way, it is setting aside our distractions and make time for God. Each of these four commandments has the same aim, helping us to stay in love with God.
The second set of commandments follows a similar pattern. Terry Pratchett, a fantasy writer once defined evil as treating people as objects. It has always been a good working definition for me. While things like “thou shall not kill” seem obvious enough, most often how we start towards violating any of these commands is we stop seeing the humanity in others and they become a means to an end, they are objects to be used for our gain. Loving your neighbor as yourself means seeing them as having the same sacred worthy that you do. It also means remembering your own sacred worth, but that is a sermon for another day.
Our story for today, No David! highlights the tension we have when it comes to rules and love. The mother is forced over and over to set boundaries for her son. These are not done out of hatred, but done out of love. The rules are there as guidelines that help David to understand how to live in a better way. Sometimes they are teaching him to respect his home, sometimes other people, and sometimes himself. All of them are a part of a deeper message of love. The mother does not say “no” to cause harm, she says “no” out of a much deeper love that she has. She says “no” to help David to be the best person he can be.
The same is true when it comes to us and God. Too often it is easy to get caught up in the rules. Sometimes it because we are trying to enforce them to harshly and obedience to the law becomes an idol. Other times it us trying to worm our way out of something by redefining the laws in ways that are favorable to us. In either case we are forgetting what the laws are really about. They are there to point us back to God. They are there to help us have eternal life.
Just like David, we often fall short. We fail to follow the rules and things get broken. Jesus enters into that brokenness. God comes to us and reaches out and offers us love and grace. In those moments we are given new life. We can never perfectly love God or our neighbor. All that God asks is that we seek to, and when we do, God will be there to wipe away our tears, clean up our mistakes, and offer us unending love and grace.
Questions to Ponder:
Do you find rules helpful or do you get caught up in literalism?
When have you experienced God’s grace when you have failed to live up to your side of the bargain?
What commandments are hardest for you to follow and why?
Loving God, even through your laws you seek to show us your love. Help us to respond to your grace with our faithfulness and love. Forgive us when we fall short and help us to turn once more to you. May our actions and our words reflect our love for our neighbors and for you. Amen