"Now a traveler came to the rich man, and to avoid taking one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfaring man who had come to him. . ."
II Samuel 12: 4
"The Treatment of Strangers"
"Hospitality is one form of worship."
How would I have treated a traveler whom I did not know?
"Let all guests that come be received like Christ, for He will say, ‘I was a stranger and ye took me in' (Matthew 25: 35). Let suitable honor be shown to all, but especially to pilgrims."
Rule of St. Benedict
INSPIRATION "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."
I Peter 4: 9
I learned a great deal in my life from my grandparents who truly lived a hospitable life. I cannot ever remember sitting at Grandma's dining table when someone who wasn't an immediate family member was not eating along with the rest of us. This was the way my grandparents lived. They rarely locked their doors, front or back. And everyone knew you could drop in anytime you wanted to get a bite to eat or have a burden lifted.
My grandparents truly lived by the words of George S. Merriam who observed, "When your own burden is heaviest, you can always lighten a little, some other's burden. At the times when you cannot see God, there is still open to you this sacred possibility, to show God; for it is the love and kindness of human hearts through which the divine reality comes home, whether we name it or not. Let this thought, then, stay with you: there may be times when you cannot find help, but there is no time when you cannot give help."
This was the life-plan by which Grandpa and Grandma lived. I'm thankful they left such a generous gift of hospitality for me to recall as the years have passed. Because the act of generous kindness becomes a river that flows and waters, not only the lives of those who receive, but also of those who impart.
This lesson is one we find embroidered into the fabric of the history of many cultures. The Jewish culture, in their Proverbs, repeatedly likens acts of sharing, especially with strangers, to "divine" behavior. In a world where we are so apt to be looking out for our own interests above everything and everyone else, it's beneficial to be reminded that the Bible repeatedly encourages each of us to overflow with acts of generous hospitality.
This is why I find the passage in II Samuel 12: 4 so interesting. To review, Nathan came into King David's presence telling him a story about a rich man and a poor man. For all we know, David may really have thought this story was happening in his country. It appears from his further reactions that he believed this greedy, cruel act, on the part of the wealthy man, had taken place during his rulership in his own kingdom.
Not only did Nathan use the comparison of a rich man and a poor man's behavior, it is quite likely he did so, for God wanted to remind David that he had at one time been a poor boy and that it was God who placed him on the throne of Israel where David had both power and wealth.
However, Nathan didn't stop at just the comparison between rich and poor. He also compared the tender, kindness of the poor man with one sheep to the heartless cruelty of the rich man who had flocks and herds to spare.
And then, Nathan really struck a crucial cord when he said that a traveling man, or as the Hebrew translates, a person who was on a journey, a wayfaring man, stopped by the rich man's house and asked for something to eat. If I had been David, I would have, in my memory, thought back to the times, when as a mountain and desert wanderer, he stopped at the abodes of others when he needed food. Don't forget, this is how he met Nabal and Abigail. He needed food and after Nabal's nasty denial to entertain David and his army of men, Abigail saved the day with her act of over-the-top generous hospitality. Yes, it is certain David had benefitted from the kindness of others. And Nathan, twice in one sentence, wanted to highlight to David that he had been on the receiving end of great kindness when he was a wayfaring, traveling man.
An unknown author wrote:
"I have wept in the night
for the shortness of sight
that to somebody's need made me blind;
But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind."
Nathan came into the palace to remind David of where he had been and who had been walking by his side every step of the way - his heavenly Father. But Nathan also wanted David never to forget the kind acts that had been extended to him, when in times of extremity and loneliness, David had found himself needing the light of a candle to help him see his way through the darkness.
"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."
Hebrews 13: 2
AFFIRMATION "They might not need me;
but they might.
I'll let my head be just in sight;
A smile as small as mine might be
Precisely their necessity."
My Daily Prayer
"If I can do some good today,
If I can serve along life's way,
If I can something helpful say,
Lord, show me how.
If I can right a human wrong,
If I can help to make one strong,
If I can cheer with smile or song,
Lord, show me how.
If I can aid one in distress,
If I can make a burden less,
If I can spread more happiness,
Lord, show me how."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com