This week the Daily Office is focused on all the heroes of the Old Testament. I got reminded this morning how critical it is to actually read the Word of God to our children, rather than only reading Children's Bible Books or playing Veggie Tales DVDs.
The Word of God is a living thing- it strikes at the soul. Today's Office of the Reading contained the familiar story of David and Goliath. How many hundreds of times have I heard this story? Yet this morning several new details jumped out at me. First, David declines Saul's expensive armor. He goes to fight Goliath in his simple, familiar and seemingly flimsy shepherd's gear. (How often am I tempted to wear some unfamiliar type of protection or add a new type of spiritual devotion whenever I'm headed into a serious spiritual battle?)
I also discovered that after David flung the stone from his slingshot "the stone embedded itself in [Goliath's] brow." That word "embedded" jumped out at me. My little 5 year son said later "it's as if David threw the slingshot on his own power and then an angel came and swung an invisible bat to smash it into Goliath's skull!" You've got to love the combinations of the Word of God and a young son's vivid imagery!
This year, while preparing for my daughter's First Communion, my family found the perfect time for Scripture Study. We keep a Bible near our dining room table. Each night, my husband reads a small bit of Scripture for about 2-3 minutes. Then we chat about the reading. (There is something about having all the kids already sitting around the table and happily chewing their food, that makes for a more peaceful setting.)
Months later, my husband and I laughed to find out that the ancient 12th Century "Rule of St. Albert" encourages all Carmelites to have read the Holy Scripture during meal time.
If you'd like to try something similar here are some readings which were very appealing to young children.
Ehud (Judges 3:12-30)
We Benjamins have some fascinating blood relatives in the Bible, St. Paul, Queen Ester, etc. My husband's favorite Benjamin in the Bible, however, is Ehud! This is a crazy story which I'm sure is new to you. An evil foreign king, who happens to be super fat, is oppressing the Israelites. Ehud gets the job to dispatch him. Ehud tells the king he's got a secret message for him from God. Then Ehud drives a dagger
into the kings belly. The king is so fat, that his belly hides the dagger, letting Ehud make a clean get away.
"The Reign Over Me Trees" (Judges 9:7-15)
For some reason this metaphor about different trees ruling over the plants of the forest is a big favorite among my kids
Judges 15:14-16 (jawbone of the donkey)
16 (Samson and Delilah)
17 (Death of Samson)
David and Goliath (1 Samuel: 4-10, 41-48)
Finally, preview this story before you read it out loud to the kids.(2 Kings 6: 24-31, 7:1-20). We found it by accident and it was such a memorable story about trusting in God.
This is a story that happens to the Prophet Elisha. There is a long siege of Samaria and terrible famine happens inside the City. Things are so bad that two hungry mothers make a gross promise to "eat my son today and eat your son tomorrow." The mothers boil and eat one son. The next day, instead of handing over her son to be eaten, the neighbor hides her own son. Then a mother goes to the King demands that he enforce the neighbor's promise to eat the second son. The King loses it, and says "What have we come to as a nation?" Then the King starts yelling at the Prophet Elisha "things are really, really bad! Do something!" Elisha tells him not to worry that by tomorrow night, there will be plenty of food in the city. Through a complete miracle, God delivers the city and provides plenty of food from the vanquished army." The details of this story are unforgettable and encouraged my family to really think about trusting completely in God even when the current circumstances look totally helpless!
Please let me know if you have any other interesting passages to share!