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Posts Tagged ‘Solomon’


Clay Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

British Museum: Clay Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

Monday, September 27, 2021

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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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

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.


Image from: http://dimensionministries.com/blog/?p=5

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

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Bathsheba

Bathsheba

Friday, June 25, 2021

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: https://bible.wikia.org/wiki/Bathsheba

Adapted from a March 23, 2011 favorite.

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watchmanforjerusalemThursday, June 24, 2021

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.  

Image from: http://www.pray4zion.org/TheWatchmanofIsrael.html

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

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fragments from Solomon templeMonday, June 14, 2021

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 God – that of a child asking a patient parent for help – by asking God for assistance and protection. David understands through his own past experiences that no matter how much he might 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 strongSunday, June 13, 2021

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.


Image from: http://www.mymothermode.com/2014/02/free-valentines-day-heart-printable/

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Saturday, June 12, 2021

1 Chronicles 28

5201-king-david-in-prayer-pieter-de-grebber

Pieter de Grebber: King David in Prayer

Service for the House of the Lord

In today’s reading we are witnesses to a moment in human history that is difficult to match. David forfeits the building of a temple that would surely bring him worldly fame. He does this in order that he might obey God above all others, even above his own desires.

Yes, David hands all of his plans over to his son Solomon and this son will carry out those plans in a grand scale; but David steps back from his own desire.

Yes, David’s plans are meticulous in nature and we may consider that he wants to control his son from the distance; but David conveys the desires of God rather than self.

Yes, David sins and fails as he moves through his life and we may believe ourselves better than he; but David repents and returns to God, keeping in mind who is Lord of all.

What I like most in this reading is the ending of the chapter with the verses David speaks to his son. We might all offer these words to the generations who follow us and, indeed, to one another: Be firm and steadfast; go to work without fear or discouragement, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or abandon you before you have completed all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.

And the people reply . . . Amen!


Adapted from a reflection written on Wednesday, May 18, 2011.

To read about King David’s palace uncovered in 2013, visit: https://news.yahoo.com/king-david-era-palace-found-israel-archaeologists-141207932.html or https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna52529132

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:5201-king-david-in-prayer-pieter-de-grebber.jpg

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Saturday, October 24, 2020

king solomon[1]

King Solomon

Last Instructions

This scene may be familiar to us since it is replicated on Palm Sunday when Jesus rides into Jerusalem as king and paschal sacrifice.  Jesus’ crowning by the marginalized people whom he cured and healed fulfills the hope which Solomon brings to the throne of Israel. David’s last instructions serve his son and his people. Solomon’s crowning bring his people hope for security and peace.  Jesus’ last instructions bring rescue and redemption that last an eternity.

1 Kings 2 begins with David’s death discourse and we find that it has a familiar ring. David hands on his kingdom to Solomon in 970 B.C.E. and several hundred years later, Jesus comes to fulfill David’s and Solomon’s hope.

What does Solomon’s crowning mean for us today? We see the foreshadowing of Jesus, the true king who “keep[s] the mandate of the Lord . . . following his ways and observing his statutes, commands, ordinances and decrees as they are written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in whatever you do, wherever you turn.”

We so easily forget this when life offers us an easy road and we feel confident. Our small egos take over and tell us that we do not need God. Then trouble strikes and we turn back to God whom we have forgotten and we find that God is there waiting to accompany us through any tragedy or pain. David’s last instructions, a call to live in the Law of Moses, presage the Law of Love which Jesus brings.

Vicente Juan Macip: The Last Supper

Vicente Juan Macip: The Last Supper

The apostle John tells us of Jesus’ last words to his followers.  They are so simple and also so beautiful.  Do not let your hearts be troubled . . . I will not leave you orphans . . . I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.  Remain in me as I remain in you . . . It was not you who chose me but I who chose you . . . I have more to tell you but you cannot bear it now . . . In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world. These familiar words lay out the simple tenets of Jesus Law of Love which comes down to one lasting commandment: Love God, love one another.

This is such a simple instruction and yet so easily forgotten.

As David lies dying he gathers his last resources to leave final instructions to those he loves so well. Solomon is crowned and David’s words are passed on for generations.

As Jesus enters Jerusalem he gathers his strength for the harrowing road that lies ahead. He calls his apostles together, breaks bread and shares wine, and he leaves last instructions for those he loves so dearly. Do not let your hearts be troubled . . . Jesus’ words are passed down through an eternity.

As we confront any obstacle that falls to us in our journey, we might find wisdom and consolation in these last words which we so easily forget.  And so we ask God’s help and we pray . . .

Faithful and forgiving God, abide with us as we journey through life forgetting, or perhaps not believing, that you are with us.

Constant and faithful God, sustain us with the hope so often predicted and so lovingly brought to us by your son.

Healing and loving God, fill us with the consolation and peace of your Holy Spirit, remembering that we are your own dear creations who long to be with you.

For this we pray. Amen.


For Jesus’ Last Supper Discourses and Prayer, see John Chapters 14 through 17.

Adapted from a reflection written on June 6, 2007.

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Proverbs: Mashal


Friday, August 28, 2020

King Solomon

King Solomon

Proverbs

Mashal

“There is no English word that adequately translates the Hebrew mashalIt embraces a broad category of literary forms: oracle (Nm 23,7); discourse (Jb 29,1); parable (Ps 78,2); taunt-song (Is 14,4). In each case there is a lesson to be learned, and for this reason the mashal might best be understood as ‘an example from life’ intended to instruct.  (Although some scholars understand mashal in the limited sense of a specific form, it will be used here as a general category unless otherwise indicated.) This is the word that identifies two major collections as “The Proverbs of Solomon” (10,1; 25,1) and from which the book itself receives its name.

“The root meaning of mashal is ‘likeness’ or ‘comparison’ as in ‘Like mother like daughter,’ or in the contrast ‘better safe than sorry.’  As a comparison, it usually consists of two parts in some kind of poetic construction”.  (Senior RG 256)

Solomon cannot have been more clear with his comparisons and explications. He writes with clarity and precision about the wisdom that guides him with the difficult and complex work as leader of a nation rising in stature and power. He shares all that he knows about how to avoid wrongdoing and how to keep to the narrow path that Wisdom lays down before us. The distractions of the world are many and they are deceptive. Temptation, when it succeeds in luring us away from God, comes to us gently, subtly, and in the guise of something or someone we love. Solomon warns us of pitfalls. He gives us clear words for success in God’s way; yet even Solomon himself ignores the very wisdom he imparts to us. We will want to avoid the fall comes to Solomon.

When we look at these chapters and verses we prefer to see their wisdom for change in our enemies and their wisdom of reinforcement for ourselves. We humans prefer that others adjust to our vision of reality rather than change anything about our own image as we take lesson from these mashal. And in this way of living we miss much of God’s Wisdom.

In the opening chapter several days ago, we have risen in full blossom with the beginning verses. Who among us does not see ourselves as intelligent and perceptive? And so we are. We yearn to be the wise one who gains sound guidance; we yearn for resourcefulness, justice and honesty. Yet also are we – from time to time at least – the ones who casts our lot with those who spread the net of gossip to gain an end. We are also – from time to time – among the number who love our own inanity. We petition God for wisdom, discipline, and security and this is what we find in these Mashal of Solomon.  We must step outside of ourselves to read these verses and to assess who we are and what we do. This, of course, takes wisdom.

If we read the story of this wise King Solomon we see what falls to him in the waning years of his life.  (1 Kings 11) Even this wise, and powerful, and wealthy servant of God falls victim to the wide road as he leaves behind the narrow path of God. So it is that we read the words he brings to us today, and we pray.

Good and wise God, we ask for knowledge rather than power. We ask for hope rather than fame. We ask for the ability to love you as you love us rather than the false security of this world. Instruct us in your narrow way. Save us from our self-willing inanity. Keep us ever in the presence of your Wisdom. Remind us of her value each day. Shield us from bitterness and anger, and remind us that you and your Wisdom are with us always, even as we call out for you. Amen.


For more on the Book of Proverbs, click on the image above or go to: http://mandyspath.wordpress.com/tag/proverbs/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 256. Print.   

Also see the Proverbs – Courage page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/wisdom/proverbs-courage/

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