Tears of a Tamarisk Tree

July 3, 2018

Dateline: Beaumont, Texas, Trinity United Methodist Church, Room 105, Explorers Sunday school

Last Sunday’s lesson was the heart-cry of David upon hearing that Saul and Jonathan were dead.  (We did note that the lament he made all his men learn may also have been a shrewd and necessary political move.) One class member asked, “What happened to Saul’s body? Didn’t the Philistines make an outrageous display of it, and then some kind people from a nearby town rescued it?”  Well, far be it from me the teacher not to investigate.  And so are planted the seeds of a poem:

Tears of a Tamarisk Tree

(a reflection on First Samuel)

depositphotos_174347872-stock-photo-old-tamarisk-tamarix-africana-kouremenos.jpg

Common in the Middle East

A pretty flowering thing

Dark-green shade for weary ones

Cool balm for desert’s sting

She grows in saline soil

Her taproot reaches water

Draws up salt, she drops the dew

An air-conditioned daughter!

The Bible hardly mentions her—

Pay attention all the more

To one of the saddest tales

Set down in Hebrew lore

Unknown.jpg

Once in ancient Gibeah

Under a tamarisk tree

Saul the king of Israel

In a killing mood was he

“I hate David. Never mind

That he’s my son in law

I know he’s out to get me

And this is the last straw

He’s made a covenant with my son

He’s hiding, town to town

I’ll find out who’s been feeding him

And I will strike them down”

And so Saul killed the priests of Nob

For extending charity

Eighty-five holy men

Under the tamarisk tree

Saul moved on in hot pursuit

David ran again

The tears of the tamarisk flowed

for the unquenchable rage of men

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Later, on Mount Gilboa

The Philistines fought so fierce

Three princes died, then Saul went down

His poor sick heart was pierced

Lo the mighty fallen

Could even worse befall?

Yes. Jubilating Philistines

Hung Saul upon the wall

The merciful town of Jabesh

Hearing of the crime

Sent valiant men to take Saul down

A kindness, just in time

While the Philistines were sleeping

They took King Saul and his three

And gave them a decent burial

Under a tamarisk tree

Common in the Middle East

A pretty flowering thing

Dark-green shade for weary ones

Cool balm for desert’s sting

The Bible hardly mentions her—

Pay attention all the more

To one of the saddest tales

Set down in Hebrew lore

Tormented soul, at last you rest

Thou furious, yet so brave

She wept salt tears and tucked you in

Deep stillness of your grave

Unknown.jpg

 

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