Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pit-Diggers, Beware!

Today is the second day of our 23rd week, reading the Bible through together in a year.  Our scriptures today are:  Proverbs 6-7; Romans 11; Psalm 7.

In Psalm 7:14-16 (ESV), David speaks of his enemies, saying:

Behold, the wicked man conceives evil
    and is pregnant with mischief
    and gives birth to lies.
15 He makes a pit, digging it out,
    and falls into the hole that he has made.
16 His mischief returns upon his own head,
    and on his own skull his violence descends.

Careful readers can find a theme throughout the Scriptures, of wicked people "falling into their own pits."  They devise trouble for someone, and end up destroyed by the trouble that they created.  Haman is a perfect example of this.  In the book of Esther, he plots the destruction of the Jews, and has a gallows built for Mordecai.  Yet in the end, it is Haman who ends up hanging from his own gallows.  We find a poetic justice in stories like this.  

Absalom's story is another one that comes immediately to mind.  The young man who took such glory in his hair winds up with his hair being his own undoing.  (Of course, in this story, Absalom's hair represents his own flaunted power in his attempted overthrow of the king, like a young lion who shakes his mane in an attempt to intimidate the old leader of the pride.)  

I think of Laban in Genesis 29-30, who tricked Jacob by giving him the wrong bride in marriage, so that he could force an additional seven years of labor out of him.  In return, Jacob tricks the trickster by cheating him out of his wealth and profiting at Laban's expense.

If you look carefully, you can find many examples of people (proverbially) digging pits and then falling into them, themselves.  Yet it's not just the wicked who stumble into this trap.  The "righteous" (note the quotation marks) have trouble with this, too.

Joseph in the bottom of a well
Just as Absalom's hair was his undoing, Samson's hair became both his glory and his shame (Judges 16).  Because of a Nazarite vow, he never cut his hair.  As a result of his faithfulness, God gave him supernatural strength.  Yet he let a woman get between him and his God.  He told her the secret of his strength, and for a price she turned him over to his enemies.  In the end, he lost both his hair and his strength (not to mention his eyes).

The mighty judge Jephthah (Judges 11) exercised his piety, making a vow before the Lord.  Yet his vow caused him to lose his daughter.

Joseph was the favorite son of his father.  It's bad enough when a father has a favorite, but then Jacob showed that favoritism by giving the young man the lavish gift of a colorful coat.  Joseph flaunted this favoritism in front of his brothers.  He also told them about dreams that he had, that they would one day bow down to him.  As a reward for his egotism, Joseph ended up stripped of his coat (representing his glory) and literally in the bottom of a pit.  Then, he is sold into slavery and pretty soon ends up in the pit of prison.

These stories all go to show us that we need to be careful if we think that it's only the wicked who fall into the pits that they dig for themselves.  We, who fancy ourselves the "righteous", also need to beware of the pits that we dig.  Watch your step--it's a dangerous world out there--especially for pit-diggers!

No comments: