A trumpet, especially a war trumpet
A Clever Verse for Context
“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet (salpinx) before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others.” (Matthew 6:2)
“And she didn’t even say thank you.” Perhaps you’ve spoken or heard some variation of this particular line. And gratitude feels good. There is nothing like a card, gift, or word of thanks to make us feel that what we are doing is worthwhile. At the very least we crave that “warm fuzzy feeling” that supposedly comes from helping others. But sometimes building the Kingdom is a thankless job, and the good we do goes unnoticed or is even met with dismissal. Jesus’ warning about sounding the trumpet (salpinx) calls attention to the misorientation of our hearts. We just can’t help but place ourselves, our work, and our sacrifice in the center of the universe. And so right alongside the forgiveness, the challenge is clear: feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, give to the needy not for our own sake, but for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
The comic playwright Aristophanes (5th cent. BCE) compares the sound of a trumpet (salpinx) to the farting of a gnat. In his play Clouds, a character explains that gnats have very narrow intestines, and their characteristic buzzing is creating by the movement of air through their bowels and out their rear ends.
Have you ever bragged about something and then felt kind of embarrassed?
Have you ever felt part of something bigger than yourself? How did that help you in the work you were doing?
A Clever Prayer to Close
Re-orient our hearts, O God, that we may act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with You.
From Micah 6:8