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Posts Tagged ‘Bathsheba’


Psalm 89: A Hymn in Time of National Struggle – Part III

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Peter Frederick Rothermel: Thou Art the Man (2 Samuel 12:7)

Finding the Servant

Moving forward into 2 Samuel, we see that King Saul and his son Jonathan die, the former David’s nemesis, the latter David’s dearest friend. Ordering the execution of the messenger who brings him this news, David says, You brought this on yourself. You condemned yourself when you confessed that you killed the one whom the Lord chose to be king. And so we consider, when we navigate the turbulent waters of national conflict, do we live by the standards of our times or do we open our hearts to other ways?

Following instructions and bolstered by the Lord, the young king leads his troops in victory as they bring the Ark back to Jerusalem. We might pause in chapter 6 for the accounting of Uzzah who acts in his own time rather than God’s; and we watch David move forward cautiously in the arc of his reign. In Chapter 7, David prays, Sovereign Lord! What more can I say to you! You know me, your servant. It was your will and purpose to do this; you have done all these great things in order to instruct me. How great you are, Sovereign LordAnd so as we reflect we consider, Do we add to the violence or do we work for the way of peace?

Juan Gimenez Martin: In the Harem

In Chapters 11 and 12, we discover that the gifted and blessed young king succumbs to the easy temptation of deceit, infidelity, betrayal and even murder. The prophet Nathan uses a parable to bring David to the reality of his offenses. Nathan said to David. “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: I made you king of Israel and rescued you from Saul. I gave you his kingdom and his wives; I made you king over Israel and Judah. If this had not been enough, I would have given you twice as much. Why, then, have you disobeyed my commands? David confesses and repents, and then he hears the news that darkness will cloud his own future. The intertwining lives of David, Nathan, Bathsheba, Uriah and the yet unborn sons Solomon and Absalom play out before us. And so as we reflect we consider, Do we add to the violence we experience or do we look for the way of peace?

The faithful servant stumbles. Our generous God forgives. Betrayal or fidelity, desperation or hope, hatred or love. Clear choices with difficult paths lie before us when the word of the Lord is rare and visions are scarce in our lives.

We hear this story . . . we take it in . . . and then we reply . . . O Lord, I will always sing of your constant love; I will proclaim your faithfulness forever.

Compare other translations of these verses by using the scripture links and drop-down menus. 

For other reflections on Uzzah and the ox cart, enter his name into the blog search bar and explore.

Tomorrow, God always abides. 

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1 Kings 1: Power Changes Hands

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

As Easter approaches, and as we witness the swirling tides of power grow and collapse around us, we remember this reflection from March 14, 2008; and we remember that we are children of God, living with God’s loving promise.

This is a story or power ebbing and rising.  It is also a story of corruption, convolution and byzantine conniving.  And it is also the story of God’s providence, God’s openness to the impossible being possible, and God’s awesome ability to turn all harm to good.  Just reading the first chapter of this book gives us a sliver of our history as Yahweh’s people.  It can even give us a context for the corruption in our church structure today.  We know who we are as God’s children: we are created, we are loved, we are longed for, we are anointed, we are blessed, we are saved, we dance an intimate dance with our God.  The greater question for us may be: Who am I in God’s creation? 

Sometimes these answers are more difficult to live with. If we believe, for example, in the sanctity of life, we must also believe that torture is an unjust way of interrogating people. If we believe that the Christ is present in the world today through us, we are still all God’s children, even if we cannot all agree about all of the details of an issue.

When we read about the people in these historical books, we come away with the assurance that no matter the era or epoch, we are all God’s people under the same skin.  We all err.  We all have the opportunity for redemption.  We may all make reparation.  We may all forgive and be forgiven.  We are all God’s children.

When we read ACTS OF THE APOSTLES to remind myself of the many struggles which the early Church had during its formation, we can see clearly the presence of the Holy Spirit, God’s nurturing, abiding presence hovering constantly around these early apostles.  We see power transferring from the Pharisees and their separatist thinking to the apostles and their universal salvation thinking.  And even among the early Christians there was dissent: the necessity of circumcision, the need for baptism by the spirit, and so on.  The Holy Spirit shepherded these people . . . and shepherds us today.

In both the Old and New Testaments we read of the human qualities of contrivance, deceit and falsehood . . . and we also read of honesty and redemption.  Nathan, Bathsheba, Adonijah, Solomon, Zadok are all characters in this tale from long ago . . . and they are the people we see before us on the television screen each evening when we tune in to hear the day’s news.  When we watch these people of then . . . or of today . . . how do we see ourselves responding?  How do we witness to The Word?  How do we react as children of God?

We might ponder these things tonight in our evening prayer.

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2 Samuel 11 and 12: Conversion – Part I

Thursday, February 2, 2017jesus-and-paul

We visit this story about once a year as we journey together at Noontime, and here it is again.  We have reflected on the narrative and how Psalm 51 – the beautiful song of contrition and yearning – rises from this account of lust, adultery and murder.  We have also spent time thinking about how David succumbs to very human emotions only to later rise to his divine best self by finally facing the truth about his own actions.  We have spent a bit of time with Bathsheba, wondering what more we might learn from her if only we had more details of her life.  Today we meditate a bit on the role that Nathan plays in this drama: the truth-revealer who is wise with words and strong with God, the prophet who becomes the instrument of David’s conversion.

This is a fitting path to continue as today we celebrate the conversion of St. Paul, the devout Pharisee who was known for his persecution of the followers of The Way . . . who becomes one of the most fearless defenders of the Christ story.  A wonderful book to read about Paul’s conversion, particularly as it parallels the life of Christ, is Jesus and Paul: Parallel Lives by Jerome Murphy-O’Conner.  The writer delineates for us the thesis that both Paul and Christ experience not one but two major conversions: a conversion of heart and a conversion of vocation.  Using scripture and other ancient texts, Murphy-O’Conner supports this idea to lead us through his thinking that understanding our conversion is one thing . . . acting on it is another.

For a reflection on Paul’s conversion with an audio link, visit: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/conversion-of-saint-paul/ 

Tomorrow, from Saul to Paul.

Adapted from a January 25, 2009 Favorite.

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1 & 2 Chronicles: Our Sacred History – Part II

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Cornelis de Vos: KIng David handing the Scepter to Solomon

Cornelis de Vos: King David handing the Scepter to Solomon

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done . . . 

As we move from childhood to maturity, we take on commitments and we either fulfill or turn away from promises. As we seize control of as many facets of our lives as possible, we also strive for success as the world around us identifies it. And somewhere in the blur of activity and struggle, they is always the chance that we might move away from the core of who and what we are.

In the story of David and Solomon we find two men, and the women who surround them, scrabble to come out on top and in front, surrounded by security, relaxing into comfort. The details of David’s anointing and rise, his battles with both his enemies and King Saul he has pledged to serve, are all benchmarks in David’s life. So are his interactions with Michal and Bathsheba, and the prophet Nathan. David’s son Solomon must also struggle against heavy odds to survive into adulthood and to assume his father’s seat of power; but later he succumbs to the wishes of others and the lure of success and fame. Details of a temple are laid out and even include specifics about music, vessels and decorations. Life at court attracts both those who support and those who tear down what once was full of hope.

How do we arrive at the peak of power in our lives? What do we store up for the journey ahead and what do we jettison? What do we tend to and what do we ignore? Does our relationship with God grow or diminish? Have we found wisdom that nourishes and serenity that heals . . . and do these gifts from God even matter to us?

Today we take time to examine our lives to see how or if we have followed God’s lead in the living of our hours on earth, and to examine the kind of kingdom we have been building. We consider what we have set aside as having great value and what we have cast off as holding us down. And we discover, in the many relationships and encounters we have experienced, that both our storehouse and the debris we leave behind reveal a great deal about who and what we have become.

The two books of Chronicles have four major portions: a genealogy of our leaders beginning with Abraham (1 Chronicles 1-9), a description of the monarchy under David and Solomon (1 Chronicles 9 – 2 Chronicles 9), the divided kingdom (2 Chronicles 10-18), and the period from Hezekiah to the Babylonian exile (2 Chronicles 19-36). This story of divine promise interwoven with human commitment and infidelity tell a story that we might see reflected in our own personal sacred history. This story is worthy of our time over the next few days.

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Psalm 51: Contritioncontrite-heart

March 14, 2015

The most famous of the lament psalms, this prayer is said often during the Lenten season; it is also called Prayer of Repentance.  It was written after David sinned with Bathsheba and their child was lost (2 Samuel 11 and 12).

“The first part (3-10) asks deliverance from sin, which is not just a past act but its emotional, physical, and social consequences.  The second part (11-19) seeks something more profound than wiping the slate clean: nearness to God, living by the spirit of God (12-13), like the relation between God and people described in Jer. 21, 33-34.  Nearness to God brings joy and the authority to teach sinners (15-16).  Such proclamation is better than offering sacrifice (17-19).  The last two verses ask for the rebuilding of Jerusalem (20-21) . . . Most scholars think that these verses were added to the psalm some time after the destruction of the temple in 587 B.C.  The verses assume that the rebuilt temple will be the ideal site for national reconciliation”.  (Senior 680-681)

The elements that help to bring us to reconciliation in this prayer are the call to be cleansed and purified with the sprinkling of the hyssop – a woody bush whose small branches were used in ceremonial sprinkling as prescribed by Mosaic Law – the acknowledgment that our wrongdoings effect every part of us – even our inmost heart – and the understanding that true reconciliation comes only through God’s healing hand.  The writer of this psalm knows and expresses the idea that we of ourselves are nothing and can do nothing . . . other than act in and of God.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.680-681. Print.   

Tomorrow, miserere.

Adapted from a reflection written on February 11, 2010.

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Joy and Turmoil


joyMonday, November 10, 2014

1 Kings 1

Joy and Turmoil

We continue our journey as we visit with scripture looking for stories about joy that will surprise us in a number of ways. To explore other stories in which joy astounds us, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our story is from the Book of Kings.

It does not take much imagination to envision the picture painted here in this opening chapter of the long books of Kings. David has reached old age and the many sons, wives, concubines and courtiers all jockey for the throne of this now powerful nation.

julia Margaret Cameron: Study of King David

Julia Margaret Cameron: Study of King David

God says: When you read these verses you will see how the plans of men and women come to nothing when they are made without me. You will also see how my faithful servant David includes me in his plans even when he must rely on family, friends and counselors to do his bidding. As you read this story, do not lament David’s old age or feebleness. Do not worry about the turmoil you see on these pages in such a way that you forget me. Do not rely on your own resources alone when you find strife in your own lives for where there is confusion and injustice I am also there. When you remember how David’s leaps of joy stir great jealousy in others, remember also that this darkness does not destroy him. Remember that with the grimness of suspicion David also knows the jubilation of joy. He is not foolish to rely on me, to trust in me. And neither are you . . .  

Visit 1 Kings to read more of this story.

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/ 

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Stop Judging


Monday, November 18, 2013

scales-of-justice-istock_000005017451medium[1]Matthew 7:1

Stop Judging

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We have explored the story of David, Bathsheba and Nathan (2 Samuel 11 and 12) to find that Nathan uses a simple story of a poor man and his ewe lamb to bring King David to the reality of his actions.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We have examined the story to find that little is said of Bathsheba and Uriah; the focus of this tale is on David and Nathan.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

judging-others-blue_design[1]We have reflected on how Nathan calls forth David’s secret with a parable rather than an accusation.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We have watched how God works quietly in the lives of these two men who live so closely in a common goal.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We might also examine our own lives to see what dark secrets we harbor at great cost.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We might also reflect on the words and stories brought to us by trusted friends and colleagues.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We might also watch to see how God works wonderfully in our own lives.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

Wayne Dyer

Wayne Dyer

We might speak with friends and colleagues in parables that call forth truth.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We might listen to friends and colleagues who speak in love with the words God gives to them . . . rather than judging.

“We often judge our insides which we know intimately, by other people’s outsides, because that is all we can see”.  Excerpt from The Mindful Way Through Anxiety by Susan M. Orsillo, Phd  and Lizabeth Roemer, PhD.  Click on the Wayne Dyer quote to read more, or . . .

Enter the word relationships into the blog search bar and reflect on the parables you might give and receive.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

hyssop48-l[1]2 Samuel 11 and 12 and Psalm 51

Sin and Parable – Part VI

Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

I always wonder about Bathsheba.  We might see her as one dimensional, a figure standing for beauty and grace, a woman-object, a child-bearer.  Yet she endures in David’s court.  And while she shares in David’s act, no mention is made of her grief or guilt, most likely because she is a female, chattel in these ancient times.  We can imagine how much she may have suffered. She continues to appear in Kings and in Chronicles and is revered as Solomon’s mother, yet she is a quiet back-figure in this long-running story of sin and parable.

Let me hear joy and gladness, let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

It is appropriate that this story come to us as we near the end of the Liturgical year and prepare for Advent.  The beautiful psalm of repentance, Psalm 51, was written when Nathan came to David after having committed adultery.

Oh Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise. 

When we sing this song of repentance we are repeating the words of one who has lusted, one who has slept with another’s beloved, one who has arranged murder.  This is fitting, for in some way we all transgress on those around us when we covet, take or tear down something or someone.  And there are many small ways in which we end a life beyond the physical act of murder.  We might destroy someone emotionally, professionally, psychologically or spiritually.  Yet, there is always mercy to be sought . . . and granted.

giant_hyssop_large[1]Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will turn back to you.

There is much to be heard in this story.  There is much to be lived, much to be sung.  David takes something he wants.  David destroys.  Nathan speaks.  Nathan restores.   Relationships cannot be put back as they had been, time cannot be reversed, and although Uriah cannot return, some quality, some relationship reappears.  Bridges can be built.  Pride can be put aside.  Transgressions can be brought to light.  Forgiveness can be sought and given.  Restoration can happen.

Miracles can take place . . . souls can be saved.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 

What do we do when Nathan stands before us?  How do we react?  When confronted by big sin, we need a big spirit.  We need constant relationships which help us to develop rather than comfortable friends who discourage us from growth or who encourage us to wallow.  We need a steadfast spirit, a renewed heart, an eager soul.  We need God.  And these things we have all been given.  We need only take them up and commit ourselves to them.

Create in me a pure heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Amen.

To discover the medicinal uses of hyssop and how it was used in ancient times, click on the  botanical image above or go to: http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hyssop48.html

Adapted from a reflection written on February 13, 2008.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pieter Lastman: David hands the Letter to Uriah

Pieter Lastman: David hands the Letter to Uriah

2 Samuel 11 and 12 and Psalm 51

Sin and Parable – Part II

Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

The story is a famous one: David succumbs to human lust and he takes something which belongs to another.  When Bathsheba conceives, he tries to trick her husband Uriah into a scenario in which the king’s child can be passed off as Uriah’s.  When Uriah’s purity and faithfulness to Yahweh get in the way, David arranges the murder of this good and loyal man.  A terrible tale.  Nathan brings David the parable of a man who steals a beloved object from another.  David at first is angry, then admits his guilt and expresses regret and grief for the damage he has done.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

Lust, Adultery, Murder.  These are all acts of selfishness, of obliqueness, of anger.  There is nothing direct here, nothing open or honest.  These acts take place in shadow and in deep places.  There is no light.  There is no truth.

Let us consider the sins we have committed either actively or by leaving undone an action we have been called to complete.  Let us consider how these commissions and omissions separate us from all that we are meant to be and do.   And let us consider what these sins have  to say about who we are.

Let us consider how many parables Jesus teaches us with his words.  Let us consider how many parables Jesus teaches us with his actions.  And let us consider how many parables our own lives teach.

Visit one of the Gospels and choose a parable that Jesus teaches us. Spend time with it today reflecting on how we might teach others through our actions rather than our words.

Adapted from a reflection written on February 13, 2008.

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