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Posts Tagged ‘David’


Clay Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

British Museum: Clay Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Jeremiah 46

Routed Heroes

This oracle against Egypt that we read today is one of Jeremiah’s many. The young Hebrew nation sought refuge in Egypt under the protection of Joseph, they prospered and grew in the land of Goshen and were later enslaved. Led from their enslavement by Moses, they migrated to their promised land where they again prospered and grew. They became a formidable force under the leadership of Saul and David but with Solomon the empire begins to crumble. This young king who had shown so much promise bows to the desires of pagan wives and allows his people to turn to pagan gods. Babylon threatens in the north while Israel and Judah become two kingdoms. Ahead of the forces of Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah is swept away and carried off to Egypt; but Babylon follows and Nebuchadnezzar’s forces move swiftly through the Levant to rout the heroes who attempted to stem the force of his advance. Jeremiah had warned his people but they chose to ignore the word of God as delivered by the prophet.

Prepare shield and buckler! March to battle!

The prophet Daniel reminds us that the faithful need not fight, they only need rely on the providence and goodness of God. (Daniel and the Fiery Furnace in Daniel 3)

Harness the horses. Mount, charioteers. Fall in with your helmets; polish your spears, put on your breastplates.

Saint Paul reminds us that the only impenetrable armor is Christ himself. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

What do I see? With broken ranks they fall back; their heroes are routed, they flee headlong without making a stand. Terror on every side!

Jesus tells us that we have nothing to fear when we live in him.

The swift cannot flee, nor the hero escape. There in the north, on the Euphrates’ bank, they stumble and fall. Who is this that surges toward the Nile, like rivers of billowing waters?

Jeremiah warns that there is no route of escape, no avoidance of the inevitable end which corruption and arrogance guarantees.

Pack your baggage for exile, Memphis shall become a desert, an empty ruin. The mercenaries are like fatted calves; they too turn and flee together, stand not their ground.

The unthinkable will take place. All who are powerful will be weak. All who are mighty will fall. Heroes and cowards alike will collapse.

I will make an end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but of you I will not make an end. I will chastise you as you deserve, I will not let you go unpunished.

So compassionate is our God that even those who go against him have an opportunity to change their ways.

But you, my servant Jacob, fear not; be not dismayed, O Israel. Behold, I will deliver you from the far off land for I am with you.

So faithful is our persistent God that those who are lost in the wake of routed heroes will be healed, restored and transformed.

So hopeful is our transformative God that those who fall on the banks of the Nile will be reconciled, rebuilt and made new.

So loving is our merciful God that even those who are swept away with the tide of routed heroes will be raised up, resurrected and brought to eternal life.

For information on the Babylonian Culture and Jeremiah’s prophecy, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblesearchers.com/temples/jeremiah4.shtml 

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Bathsheba

Bathsheba

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

1 Chronicles 20

Not Judging 

From the HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (633): “At this point 2 Samuel 11.2-12.25 tells the story of David, Bathsheba, Uriah, and the prophetic condemnation by Nathan before reporting the conclusion of the battle with the Ammonites. Since Chronicles idealizes David’s and Solomon’s work for the temple and its ritual life, it would not have served its purposes to rehearse the sins of the United Monarchy. We may be sure that the Chronicler and his readers were well aware of these negative incidents”.

Evil sneaks up on us when things are going well, when we are most confident and assured and most likely to have left God for a time. God accompanies us in our good times and bad. We may not feel God’s presence but God is with us all the same.

Thoughts from Scripture . . .

John 15:18: If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.

Wisdom 2:12: Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training.

Jeremiah 18:18: The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem said, “Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah”.

Matthew 20:26: Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be you servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.

Matthew 20:22: Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?

The Chronicler knows, as we read in our notes, that David has sinned . . . so have we all.

Jesus tells his apostles that leading is serving . . . this Message we have heard many times.

Jeremiah witnesses to the treachery that lies in wait for the faithful . . . this reality we have lived.

Jesus reminds us that the world hates goodness . . . this rejection we have felt.

Jesus asks us if we can drink from his chalice . . . this question we have heard within ourselves.

Judging . . . not judging . . . it is difficult for us to refrain from forming ideas for or against individuals or groups but it is essential for us to refrain from judging. We know that the measure that we measure is measured out to us. Ultimately, we have only this to ask ourselves: Can we live up to the harsh yardstick against which we measure others?

Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. 633. Print. (Meeks)

To learn more about Bathsheba’s story, click on the image above or go to: http://godzdogz.op.org/2012/08/women-of-old-testament-bathsheba.html

Adapted from a March 23, 2011 favorite.

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watchmanforjerusalemTuesday, July 8, 2014

1 Chronicles 26:1-28

Gatekeepers

David gathers materials to build a palace and temple structure; he commands the nation’s leaders and priests to support Solomon; he prepares the liturgical cult, the treasurers and magistrates, the tribal leaders and overseers, and then the entire assembly for the coming of the new king. He readies the architectural plans, the offerings, and even his final prayer before he dies. David thinks of everything.

One of the groups he names and calls is the Gatekeepers. These are men who divide themselves among the city gates to take up the watches of those gates. They provide the warning call when enemies approach, because if the tent of the tabernacle is to be replaced by an immovable structure . . . the sentinels must take their work seriously. There will be no folding up and moving this Holy of Holies to safety. The task of gate-keeping takes on major importance.

THE ARQUEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE tells us on page 614 that these gatekeepers were not only the city’s security force; they also oversaw the city revenues and were in charge of maintaining the temple precinct. Lots were cast to determine the gate and the time of the watch. This method of selection prevented partiality and emphasized the divine nature of the decision, since the outcome of a lot was from the Lord.

We might think of the gate-keeping that happens in our own lives. Who are our sentinels? On whom do we rely to raise the cry when enemies approach? Are all the gates covered? Are there any watches that have too few guards? Are there any places or any sentries who have proven unreliable? What do we do when we realize that a gate has been breached? Do we rely on God alone to appoint the time and place for our gate-keeping assignments?

Yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT reflection was written by Father Bede Jarrett, a Dominican priest who died in 1934. He writes: Each one of us has some special work to do for God. God made his plans for us before we came into the world at all – for the work is of primary importance, it comes first in God’s thought, and we follow as instruments. When an architect is commissioned to build a house, he has to know first its destined use, its locality, and the weather conditions, etc. Every detail must be taken into consideration. Only then can he collect his materials and begin to work . . . God is the architect. He has made our souls a certain size and shape, to fit certain holes, so to speak. It is not for us to say that we are incapable, or unfitted for the work given to us . . . Nothing is ever quite what we anticipated. There is the interplay of circumstances on our desires. It makes known to us what is God’s will for us; and so we give up in our desires what does not fit in with God’s plan for us, content to do as he wishes.

And so we wonder . . . as God builds the great temple of creation, if we are called to be a gatekeepers, will we be happy with our duty post? Will we be content with the shift to which we are assigned? Will we stay awake when it is dark? Will we be alert during the day or the late afternoon? If we prefer the morning hour, will we be called to serve at dusk? And if we are, will we go without grumbling to our expected post? Will we be faithful gatekeepers?

Isaiah 62:6: On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; never by day or by night shall they be silent. 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 614. Print.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 28.2 (2009. Print.  

Adapted from a reflection first written on March 1, 2009.

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

1 Chronicles 16

The Ark Comes to Jerusalem

Anonymous: King David Dances Before the Ark

Anonymous: King David Dances Before the Ark

Here – and also in 2 Samuel 6 – we see David bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem amid celebration and festivity. The presence of God brings a response of joy and thanksgiving from the people. The priest blesses both the occasion and the faithful; David cavorts with elation; a meal is served. The people worship God because the Ark containing sacred text, sacred food and the sacred blooming staff has taken up residence. These people feel invulnerable, joyful and grateful.

Within each of us is the place where God dwells and where scripture flourishes like Aaron’s staff. We are sustained by the new desert manna: the body and blood of Christ. We take this dwelling with us on our desert journey. We too might leap for joy and bow down in reverence and happiness. We too might bring the Ark to Jerusalem. There is no obstacle to knowing God’s presence except the obstacles we ourselves set up.

Give thanks to the Lord, invoke his name.

God is the originator of all that is good and holy.

Glory in his holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!

We can offer up all that sorrows us when we come into the presence of the Lord.

Look to the Lord in his strength; seek to serve him constantly.

We honor God when we perform his works rather than our own.

Give to the Lord . . . bring gifts and enter into his presence.

The best offering to God is that of ourselves. We carry to him the burdens of our day, our attempts to do his bidding.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his kindness endures forever.

We do not need to build an ark to house our sacred reminders of God’s presence for we already possess it. It is our hearts that hold all sacredness holy.

We do not need to build a temple to God for it is already built. It is the temple of our bodies.

We do not need to offer burnt sacrifices to God for they are already present in any sorrow we experience.

So let us bring the burnt remnants of our losses, let us give thanks for God’s providence and care, and let us rejoice in the knowing that we are created for love by love.

David brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem to place it in the tent set aside for Yahweh.

Let us lay our burdens on the altar of our lives . . . and like David, let us leap and dance for joy.

Adapted from a reflection written on February 21, 2009.

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Rebellion


Thursday, July 4, 2014

1 Chronicles 10

In the U.S. today we celebrate the founding of our country, a time when our forbearers took action against those who were seen as oppressors. At The Noontimes we return to a favorite reflection as we consider . . . Rebellion.

Mattia Preti: Samuel Anoints David

Mattia Preti: Samuel Anoints David

Thus Saul died because of his rebellion against the Lord . . .

It is difficult to wait for God’s time to unfold and it takes patience to understand our place in God’s timeline. It takes a great deal of trust to rely on God and his economy because there are so many times when we think we have a better solution, a kinder consequence, a more comfortable method for a more sensible solution. In all of this kind of thinking we stray from our true origin, purpose and destination. David and Saul provide us with an opportunity to reflect on who we are and how we interact with God.

David has been anointed by Samuel, the prophet, as the new King of Israel; yet Saul, the present King, still holds the reins of power. The relationship of trust once shared between David and Saul has ruptured and now Saul hunts David down, all the while sinking deeper into paranoia. David might have killed Saul a number of times yet he does not, choosing instead to witness, to watch and to wait. The story of this conflict can be read in the closing chapters of 1 Samuel. What we spend time with today is this: We separate ourselves from God when we anticipate God’s plan and move forward with our own. We divide ourselves into two camps. We split ourselves into two beings . . . and then we make ourselves unhappy and blame circumstances, others and even God himself for our unhappiness.

Rebellion is good when it brings us the strength to take action against abuse or corruption. Rebellion is not good when it draws us into ourselves, and away from common sense and good advice. Rebellion is our ruin when it bolsters pride, inflates our ego and enables narcissistic blindness to our separation from good.

In this Old Testament story, God is a judge standing over all and deciding “thumbs up or thumbs down” on each action. The New Testament expression of God’s love for us, Jesus, moves us beyond this simplistic way of evaluating our behavior. Rather than recommend that we ought not rebel, the new message is: Why are you terrified, O you of little faith? We have in Christ one who rebukes storms, calms seas, heals wounds and shows pity. With Saul, rebellion lured him into the arms of those who bolstered his illness and took advantage of his distress. With David, rebellion moved him away from abuse and toward God.

Rebellion is good when it brings us the courage to speak out against abuse or corruption. Rebellion is not good when it draws us into anger and away from the light. Rebellion is our ruin when it feeds our selfishness. We must decide how to best use rebellion in our lives.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

1 Chronicles 13

Uzzah

Philistine Ox Cart

Philistine Ox Cart

The Ark of the Covenant was an itinerant house for Yahweh. It was the traveling temple which housed the God who dwelt with his chosen people. In today’s reading we see something happen which can be frightening to us . . . if we see ourselves as Uzzah.

One week in our scripture class we held a lively discussion about this reading. After studying commentaries and listening to scholars, we decided that we understood what had happened to Uzzah . . . but that it seemed to be a harsh consequence. Perhaps the real lessons here are that sometimes our well-intended actions miss the mark, that we must be prepared to be misunderstood, that sometimes the consequences of our actions will be the reverse of what we expected . . . and that ultimately, these consequences may be brutal and irredeemable.

Footnotes will point out that this unsuccessful transfer is balanced by the successful one in 15:1-16:6. They will also tell us that the Chronicler (the writer of this Book) wishes to describe this event as a religious one in order to contrast it with its description in 2 Samuel 6:1-11 where it is seen as a military incident. In either case, one thing is clear: Uzzah intends one thing . . . the outcome, for him, is another . . . and it is a stark outcome. Even the brave king David is shaken, and the ark goes not to its intended place but to a temporary stop on its journey.

We have no way of knowing what ripples our actions set into motion, ripples that bound and rebound off of countless obstacles. Sometimes these ripples come back to disturb us and to lift our little boats a bit to knock against the pier where we are harbored. Other times they go off into what seems like a limitless universe. But one thing is certain . . . each time we speak, each time we move toward another . . . our words and our gestures are open to interpretation. And for this interpretation . . . we will want to prepare.

First written on July 22, 2008.

For more information on transport in ancient times, click on the image above or go to: http://www.bible-history.com/sketches/ancient/philistines-ox-cart.html

For more about Uzzah, go to: http://legacy.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/Matthew-Henry/2Sam/Uzzah-Smitten-Touching-Ark

 

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

tree in snowThe Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

1 Chronicles 1

Endurance

The Chronicler meticulously details the connection between Adam and the Davidic monarchy, Adam and the temple built by Solomon. The names of these generations fall rhythmically from our lips when we read them aloud; and this litany connects us with not only our historical past, but to our spiritual past as well. We as a servant people have endured. God as a creator and provider has accompanied us in this arduous journey. The gift of endurance is one worth treasuring for it is endurance which brings us through the longest nights.

Today we celebrate the feast of Peter and Paul, two men who each in his unique way received the Word of God and moved with it in to an uncertain but mystical future. As we pray today, we might ask ourselves how we too might endure for the good and the blessing of God’s word.

The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever. (Psalm 37:18)

If an enemy were insulting me I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. (Psalm 55:12)

He will endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations. (Psalm 72:5)

I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure. (Psalm 89:29)

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrong-doing but rejoiced with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith . . . The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed. (2 Timothy 4:6 & 17)

If you are patient when you suffer for doing good, this is a grace before God. (1 Peter 2:20)

If we have this lineage promise with God, how blessed must we be.

If this is the story of our ancestry, how resilient must we be.

If this is how much God loves us, how holy must we be.

If this is how much God abides with us, protects and endures with us . . . despite the times we have turned away from God’s work and turned inward to ourselves . . . how loved must we be.

Dear creator, originator of all that is good. We read this litany of names and we feel the echo of your covenant promise in our own souls. We know that you abide, especially when nights are long. We know that your love endures, strong enough to wipe away all separation and sorrow. Bring us again the rays of your warming and healing sun, that we may unite in one voice to praise you again on a new day. We ask this in the name of Christ Jesus who lives in us. Amen.

Adapted from a reflection first written on December 13, 2008.

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fragments from Solomon templeFriday, June 13, 2014

1 Chronicles 22

Material for the Temple

David understands that he is to leave the building of God’s dwelling place to his son, Solomon; yet he remains engaged in the process of leaving a strong foundation so that the next generation might continue in this covenant relationship with their creator, saver and lover. David comprehends and acts on the belief that what makes a community strong is not words but deeds. He has a keen appreciation for the fact that the past we come from and the future we envision are both wound tightly into the manner in which we live the present. For David, the past is not merely a receptacle of memories to be sorted by our desire to either erase or celebrate them; it a corpus of experiences – both collective and individual – in which we might discover our true motivations. Likewise, the future is not something to be dreamt and wished for; it is a tangible presence in our daily lives in that our hopes are evidenced in what we presently do.

David does not rest on past success, nor does he conveniently forget his failures. He does not charge head long into his aspirations because he has learned the important lesson that ultimately God is in charge. David knows that when we come to God with our list of petitions that we show our understanding of our proper place with him – that of a child asking a patient parent for help – by asking him for assistance and protection. David understands through his own past experiences that no matter how much he wish for something he cannot make something happen from his own will power or authority. David also knows that no matter how much he might try to avoid God’s plans for him, he cannot run away from an action that God is asking of him. In today’s reading, David is not self-serving; rather he looks to work in the kingdom building that God has in mind for him.

Jerusalem Temple Foundation Stones

Jerusalem Foundation Stones

And so David searches for the best, stockpiles for the future, exercises prudence and discernment, and charges the next generation of leaders who will challenge the world in their love of Yahweh. We might take to heart his words: Devote your hearts and souls to seeking the Lord your God. Proceed to build the sanctuary of the Lord God, that the ark of the covenant of the Lord and God’s sacred vessels may be brought into the house built in honor of the Lord.

And so today we consider: What are the materials we bring forward from our lives with which to build our own temple for God? What might we carry in the ark of ourselves that honors our maker and helps to build his kingdom? What have we stockpiled? What do we save up? What do we value and how is it appropriate in service to God? What do we hope to pass on to our children and our children’s children? What gift do we offer up to God each day of our present lives?

Adapted from a reflection written on September 19, 2009.

To learn more about the structure and building of the Jerusalem Temple, click on the images above or go to: http://www.crystalinks.com/solomonstemple.html or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_stone

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be strongThursday, June 12, 2014

1 Chronicles 28:9-10

Setting to Work

We have determined to praise God’s gifts to the ends of the earth. Let us consider how David sets an example for us to proclaim God’s goodness to future generations.

As for you, my children, know the God of your father and serve God with a perfect heart and a willing soul, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the mind’s thoughts.

We know that David sets aside his plans to build a holy place for the Ark of the Covenant; but he sets these plans aside when he understands that God has greater plans than those that he has created. Let us also make certain that the plans of our hearts are mindful of the plans of God’s heart.

If you seek God, God will let himself be found by you. But if you abandon him, he will cast you off forever.

Jesus comes to tell us the story of the Forgiving Father (Luke 15:11-31) and the Lost Son. Let us consider this parable as a roadmap of God’s plan for each of us.

See then! The Lord has chosen you to build a house as his sanctuary.

Jesus comes to tell us that we need not build temples to extol God; rather, we need create a dwelling place for the in-dwelling of the Spirit. Let us consider how and what and why we prepare ourselves for God’s Spirit. (John 2:19)

Take courage and set to work.

David reminds us that we need not worry about the plans that we have made for ourselves but rather we must tend to the plans God has in mind.

David sets aside his own desires and wishes to do as God asks; and he encourages his progeny to also follow God.

Christ reminds us that the temples we construct to ourselves do not last, but rather we are to prepare our hearts as God’s own dwelling place.

Christ shows us how to abandon ourselves in order to prepare our hearts as God’s own temple, he reminds us that we are constantly and forever loved by God; and he encourages us set to work at once. (Matthew 15:13)

And so as we set to work each day in our perfect persistence as kingdom builders, let us also remind our children of God’s fidelity. As we offer our hopes each day as willing participants in God’s plan, let us also remind our children of God’s outrageous expectation for our serenity. And as we offer our love to others each day, let us also remind our children of the power of God the creator, the compassion of God the Rescuer, and the peace of God the In-dweller . . . this awesome God who searches all hearts and understands all the mind’s thoughts.

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