Courage of a mother

by Colin Dexter

Love the Lord your God
Not just head knowledge but heart knowledge.
*Rizpah (2 Sam) by her action of love shamed a nation to behave right.

Rizpah’s story is a sorry one. It’s like something you’d read in a terrible ‘true stories’ magazine and wonder if a story that tragic could possibly be real, or if someone with an overactive imagination has come up with the most pitiful story they could concoct. Even reading the text makes me wince. What this woman went through! Where is God in all this? How might a story this tragic inspire us?
And Rizpah?

Rizpah the political pawn; Rizpah the accused; Rizpah the powerless; Rizpah the widow whose sons have just been taken from her and brutally executed. Rizpah goes to the place of this atrocity and camps out to protect the bodies of her sons from the wildlife that would devour them. A royal concubine, she chases off birds with sticks. She beats away animals with stones – she utterly humiliates herself, puts herself at great physical risk – from animals, robbers, the Gibeonites, anyone really! Why? To protect the decomposing bodies of her boys. They might be men, but they are her boys and no one else is protecting them – no one else even has the honour to bury their sorry, broken bodies. No one else is outraged, no one else cares enough to help. It’s just her. From the day of their death until the rains came she guards them in the dark, in the heat of the day, just her, alone.

The courage of a powerless mother, who could not save her sons, who could not save her reputation, who was caught in a web of intrigue and injustice. Her courage shames the powerful into action, brings justice.   RO

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