Archive for July 13th, 2020

Monday, July 13, 2020

imagesCA8I90271 Kings 14-16

Lessons of History

Following King Solomon’s death, the territory of Israel was split into two, the northern (10 tribes renamed as Israel) and southern (the tribes of Benjamin and Judah renamed Judah) kingdoms.  (1 Kings 12)  The rest of these annals labeled Kings continues the story of these two kingdoms.  James Mays in HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY (Mays 290) characterizes chapters 14 to 16 in the following way:  They summarize the last fifty years or so of the reigns of Jeroboam’s transgression and Rehoboam’s folly.  “Judah’s transgression involved illicit sacrifice outside of Jerusalem at high places and is said to have been the fault of both the people and their kings”.  This culpability and apostasy were counterbalanced by king Asa’s attempts to reform his people.  Yahweh remained faithful to the covenant.  By contrast, Israel’s kings led the people astray; King Ahab and his queen Jezebel supported state-sponsored worship of idols and in particular the god Baal.  Yahweh, despite the repeated cycles of abuse, continues to maintain his part of the bargain with these stiff-necked, hard-hearted peoples.  What are the lessons these people or we today have learned from our God?

Reading these historical narratives is a bit like reading the tiny abstracts of soap operas or evening drama.  We watch the endless returning to past misdeeds.  It seems as though no one is listening, no one is paying attention; yet Yahweh remains faithful.

Jesus, when asked by his disciples the question How often are we to forgive others their transgressions? answers seven time seven or in other words, endlessly. Both the Father and the Son demonstrate goodness, and mercy, tempered with justice.

So today we might unravel these stories toward the end of 1 Kings and we might investigate what went on before and after these difficult times of the Divided Kingdom.  Putting these chapters into context we might understand the circumstances in which these people found themselves.  We might better see our enemies as reluctant learners, and we might also see ourselves as these same reluctant learners.

Why does God continue to love us when we refuse or are unable to learn the lessons of history?  Why is it that God forgives us endlessly when we have ignored and even laughed at the lessons history has to offer?

Because God is love, and God loves us fiercely.  We know this because we have read the first letter of John, chapter 4 verses 7 to 16.  We know this because countless times we have asked for forgiveness and have received healing and pardon.  We know this because we have been graced to witness countless reconciliations of bitter enemies.  We know this because we can feel the arms of Christ the Comforter stretched between ourselves and those with whom we are in conflict.  We know this because once we begin down the path of peacemaking, the world begins to look like the beautiful Eden we thought we had abandoned, and because from that moment onward, we are never the same.

First written on July 30, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 520. Print.

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