Posts Tagged ‘David’

1 Samuel 13: The Heat of Self-Knowledge – Part I

Monday, October 17, 2016

Benjamin west: Saul and the Witch of Endor

Benjamin West: Saul and the Witch of Endor

As the political season heats up in the U.S., we consider this important story from one of our oldest scriptures.

This is the portion of the Samuel story in which we watch Saul move away from God to begin his long slide into darkness.  This downward movement happens because he presumes to know best.  Saul takes action on his own without waiting for Samuel, who is designated by God as the judge/leader, to offer sacrifice before battle.  Although his son Jonathan and the rest of Saul’s troops have immediate success, Saul himself is eventually lost.  He becomes paranoid about his fear of David (1 Samuel 18) and forces David to flee the court (1 Samuel 19).  He allows his fears to overtake him as when he orders the priest of Nob to be slaughtered (1 Samuel 22) and continues his frenetic search for David in the wilderness (1 Samuel 23).  In his panic he consults with a seer in Endor (1 Samuel 28); and finally he meets his dreadful end (1 Samuel 31) along with his beloved son Jonathon.  This is a sad ending for a man who had shown such promise but who, in the end, did not trust God.  Today we see the beginning of Saul’s long and terrible journey into the dark.  Unwilling to admit his errors or to seek pardon, Saul gives himself over to the fantastical thinking that he knows better than God . . . that he can do without God.  He sees his troops slithering away before the battle and, thinking that he will keep them from leaving, he steps in to intervene – countering God’s plan.

Today we reflect on Saul’s story and examine our motivations to see if the fire of self-knowledge threatens to consume us. Tomorrow, the fire of battle. Do our conflicts help us to know ourselves better? Or do they send us further into deception and denial? 

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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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Romans 16:17-20: Warning to Troublemakers

Thursday, February 4, 2016f8a252c28d8359617d691b379d2404e5

In this political season in the U.S., Paul’s words are worthy of our reflection time.

Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.

Paul’s letter to the Romans holds this little paragraph: a warning to the brethren who cause dissention and scandal contrary to the doctrine they have learned. Commentary suggests that Paul’s intent is to inoculate the growing community against the formation of factions that might lead to the fragmentation of the church.  In 1 Chronicles 28:20 David says to his son Solomon: Take charge! Take heart! Don’t be anxious or get discouraged. God, my God, is with you in this; God won’t walk off and leave you in the lurch. God’s at your side until every last detail is completed for conducting the worship of God. 

And how do we worship the Lord? When do we gather to give thanks to God?

We hear that we must go about our work without fear of any kind.

We understand that our kingdom work is more important than any other.

We demonstrate our belief that God is with us always when we put aside the fear-mongering and scandal-peddling of troublemakers.

TakeHeartHandsLogoJohn shares Jesus’ words with us: These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

When we set ourselves to doing God’s work, we have no reason for apprehension or anxiety.

In both the Old and New Testaments, we see God’s yardstick in our world. Paul, David and Jesus offer us a clear image and method of measuring God’s presence and love in our lives.

Adapted from a reflection written on April 27, 2008.

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Judges 5: God’s Yardstick – Deborah

Canticle of Fidelity

Deborah the Prophetess

Deborah the Prophetess

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The book of Judges is the part of the Bible saga where we see a fledgling nation forming.  The twelve tribes have survived the rigors of their years of desert wanderings, following the pillar of fire and smoke which protects them.  Joshua has led them into the land promised to them and they have secured a foothold where a kingdom will be established.  A series of judges, or heroes, will rise up to gather the people to remind them that Yahweh has promised land, kingdom and blessing . . . and that they, God’s people, owe their creator fidelity, loyalty and obedience.  This is the covenant they have entered into.

The context for these stories is “Holy War” and close reading of Judges, in which so much war is waged, tells us that we are called to cooperate with God’s plan and providence rather than serve our own small agendas. The whole point of this part of the story is to stay the course, but it must be God’s course and not our own.  The forces of darkness cannot stand up to the perseverance, the innocence and the trust of the faithful.  Deborah does this well.

Artemisia Gentileschi: Jael and Sisera

Artemisia Gentileschi: Jael and Sisera

In the preceding chapter we see this prophetess sitting under her palm tree delivering just decisions to the people.  We also see Jael, wife of Heber, lure the enemy Sisera into her tent to kill him with a tent peg to the temple.  Jael kills this enemy because Yahweh has ordained it as spoken through Deborah; and we find that these tribes fight off the pagan peoples any way they can; always consulting with Yahweh before going into battle.  In these ancient times, the struggle to survive dominated all aspects of life and we see a good deal of brutal interaction.  Yet is our interaction any less brutal today?

Deborah judges the tribes during the period of time which coincides with political unrest following the death of Ramses II in Egypt.  The time of transition proves difficult for these people who struggle not only against the pagan nations that surround  them, but also with conflict among the tribes.  David will unite these people into a true political and spiritual kingdom, and hoos son Solomon will erect a Temple which speaks to the fame of this people and their God.

Deborah leads well because she listenes well when she speaks with God each day and it is against this voice, this measuring stick that she measures her own life. We will want to follow her example of fidelity as we struggle against the violence that surrounds us.

Adapted from a reflection written on November 18, 2007.

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Ezekiel 19Allegorylions

Second Sunday of Advent, December 6, 2015

Commentary tells us that the meaning of these two allegories has been lost but that scholars believe the two young cubs in the first refer to princes who were deported to Egypt and to Babylon (likely Jehoahaz and Zedekiah), and that the mother vine represents Judah.  Ezekiel already knows that Jerusalem has been destroyed and perhaps he writes these two metaphors in order to convey the trauma of the event.  We will never know; yet what we do know is this: Even though this prophet writes of a nation whose roots have been destroyed forever, yet he holds out hope for a new arising, for a rebirth, for restoration, for another coming.  In 37:24-28 he tells us: My servant David shall be prince over them, and there shall be one shepherd for them all; they shall live by my statutes and carefully observe my decrees.  They shall live on the land which I gave to my servant Jacob . . . I will make them a covenant of peace; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever.  My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 

If we choose, we might write our own allegory, describing how and why we elect to follow this God who promises much and who never forgets his promises.

God’s dwelling has been made among us, just as he has promised.

In this season of joy, let us celebrate his coming.

The shoot from the stalk of Jesse has come to shepherd us.

In this season of hope, let us rise to walk with this God.

A covenant of peace has been made with us.

In this season of peace, let us share the good news of this coming and this covenant.

God’s Law of Love is written on our foreheads and on our hearts.

In this season of love, let us share this love with others – especially those who do us harm. 

We have our God, and we are God’s people.

In this season of possibility, let us dare to be one with this God. 

And may Christ’s peace and joy and love be upon us all.  Amen.

For notes on Ezekiel 19 click on the image above, or visit: http://www.lorisreflections.com/god-lessons/friday-revelation-lament-israel/

A Favorite from December 12, 2009.

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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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King Solomon


December 16, 2014

Joy and Songs


We continue our reflection on joy in the Books of Wisdom and today we see joy in the event of King Solomon’s marriage. When we read the full story of this man’s life we come to understand that although he demonstrated so much, and although much of God’s promise is fulfilled in him, this promise deteriorates, and at his death the kingdom that Solomon and his father pulled together begins to unravel.

If today’s Noontime calls you to search for more ways to encounter joy, 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. Or visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com

It is so very easy to be joy-filled when all is going well; and yet . . . is it? A famous comedienne once commented that after honors were distributed for a unique award she had earned and the celebration ended, she went home and put a load of laundry in the clothes washer. She realized that the trappings of fame were not nearly as important to her as the simple joy of tending to her children and husband. Let us remember that when we have few hurdles to overcome and we find ourselves in the easy place of joy, we must weigh out accolades to put them in proper perspective. Perhaps this is what Solomon does today as he appears for his wedding procession as the beautiful Song of Songs describes.

joyVerses 3:10-11: Solomon made the columns of his litter of silver,
    its roof of gold,
Its seat of purple cloth,
    its interior lovingly fitted.
Daughters of Jerusalem, go out
    and look upon King Solomon
In the crown with which his mother has crowned him
    on the day of his marriage,
    on the day of the joy of his heart.

Select more of these beautiful verses and ponder them, considering your own marriage relationship with Christ. Compare the different versions of Songs at the scripture link above and reflect on how well God loves us, how much God guides us, and how much God heals and restores.

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/


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joyWednesday, November 12, 2014

1 Chronicles

Joy and the LORD

We move forward in our journey as we visit with scripture looking for stories about joy that will amaze us in a number of ways. To explore other stories in which joy surprises 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 stories are from 1 Chronicles.

In the books of Chronicles we find an historical perspective of all that we read in the previous books of the Old Testament and when we search these chapters and verses for references to joy we are not surprised to find stories like these . . .

Chapter 12: Warriors join David in Hebron, many of them banished by Saul in his angry jealousy over David’s talent and popularity. When we think of escaping a wretched leader, or when we think of breaking long and enduring relationships we may be surprised to find joy as a possibility in such dark scenarios . . . yet here it is. As always, resting in the presence of the LORD who is always abiding with the broken-hearted.

Philistines_cow_pulling_arkChapter 16: David and his warriors arrive in Jerusalem bearing the Ark of the Covenant, the ancient chest containing the Mosaic commandment tablets, Aaron’s blossoming rod, and manna from the desert. This physical presence of the LORD among them, brings the faithful great joy. When we think of celebrating our good fortune and happiness we might be surprised to discover that God is just as joyful as we are . . . yet, here God is. As always, rejoicing in goodness and blessing.

Chapter 29: David and his followers amass gifts to build a new temple in which to house the presence of the LORD. When we think of preparing a temple for the indwelling of the Spirit we may reflect more on what is lacking rather than what is present, what is imperfect rather than what is perfect . . . yet here the Spirit is. As always, joyfully healing and sustaining us with God’s abundant grace.

arkVisit 1 Chronicles to read more and look for the stories above in 12:40, 16:27, 16:33, 29:17 and 29:22. Visit the scripture link above and compare the different versions of these verses found in the drop down menus. Explore these events and reflect on the surprise of God’s joy in our own lives.

For a fun audio version of what happened to the Ark when captured by the Philistines, and how the Ark finally came to Jerusalem, click on the image of the oxen pulling the cart above or visit: http://psalmbird.net/pages/DavidandArk.htm

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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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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