Devotions Based on Hymns from Glory to God and Their Scriptural Allusions
READ: Leviticus 19:18
“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
Leviticus 19:18 (NRSV)
In this fairly contemporary hymn, “God of the Sparrow, we find an allusion to this text from Leviticus, particularly verse 5. Listen:
“God of the neighbor God of the foe God of the pruning hook How does the creature say Love How does the creature say peace”
The Lord tells us how we are supposed to live. We are not to take vengeance. (How often have you wanted to take vengeance?) We are not to bear a grudge against any of our people. (How often has it been easier to release a grudge against someone else rather than releasing a grudge against a relative?) God states:
“You are to love your neighbor as yourself.”
Just in case you do not know who is giving this instruction … and who is teaching this commandment, the speaker leaves no doubt.
“I am the Lord.”
In one short verse and one simple song, we find instructions as to how you and I are to live. Because God loves us one and all, God is the God of the neighbor and the God of the foe. We have been taught to love our neighbors as ourselves and to love our enemies.
This is a difficult teaching to embrace, but then wielding a pruning hook is not easy! We fear cutting back too much that will reduce the fruit. We also fear not cutting back enough which can adversely affect the yield. Wielding a pruning hook may be as difficult as loving our foes, still we are instructed to do so by our Lord.
O God, we confess that we do not always love our neighbors as ourselves. We also know that we are to love our enemies, but we often do not practice this love. Forgive our failures to love and keep us mindful that we are able to love in the first place, because You first loved us. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.