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Posts Tagged ‘Solomon’


1 Kings 9:1-9: Promise and Warning – Part II

Friday, November 3, 2017

Written on October 24, 2009

In our parish scripture group, we are studying 1 Corinthians.  Through prayer, conversation and reflection we discover that Paul cautions the people of Corinth just as God cautions each of us, just as Yahweh cautions Solomon.  In chapter 10 of this letter, Paul outlines several ways in which we begin to stray from God: falling into the worship of things that are not of God, living an immoral life, testing Christ, grumbling about the leadership God sends to us, thinking that we can stand on our own.  All of these temptations, writes Paul, have the same antidote: the intervention of God with his offer to unite with him in the person of Christ in the Holy Spirit.  When we offer our sufferings to God in Christ’s name we become libations poured out as Christ’s blood.  When we allow ourselves to be broken in the Spirit we become sustenance for others as they also struggle to come together in Christ.  Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.  Just as the Corinthians are offered a warning and a promise, so too is Solomon, and so too are we . . . the choice to reject or share the gift of eternal life . . . the choice of discipleship.

As we read the story of Solomon we see how he missteps: He does not realize that although something may be permissible it may not be for one’s good.  Solomon marries foreign wives in order to enter into peace pacts with surrounding nations.  These unions later pull down his kingdom because they bring with them relationships with earthly gods rather than union with the one true God.  These relationships bring about a temporary peace but in the end they are celebrations of all that holds us apart rather than of that which brings us together.  As Paul writes everything is lawful but not everything is beneficial . . . not everything builds up.  For this is how we can see if the spirit is with our actions, it will bear fruit which Paul defines clearly.  When he writes to the Galatians he cautions against immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts and orgies.  He reminds them and us that the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  (Galatians 5:19-24)

What Solomon fails to see is the warning we are all given – that life outside of the Spirit cannot bring the Promise of God.  No amount of cleverness, no amount of stubbornness, no effort – whether human or demonic – can withstand the steadfastness, the tranquility, the permanence and the surety of God’s promise.  When we invest ourselves we will want to heed God’s warning and place all that we have and all that we are in the promise of God’s constant presence and love.  Let us trust and hope in Christ Jesus.

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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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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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king-solomon

King Solomon

Tuesday

December 16, 2014

Joy and Songs

Celebration

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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joyTuesday, November 11, 2014

1 Kings 8

Joy and Goodness

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 again from the Book of Kings.

Verse 1: Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the Israelites, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion.

King Solomon, known for his desire to know God’s wisdom, builds the great temple to house the Ark of the Covenant. Later in the New Testament Jesus declares that this Temple will fall and be raised in three days.

Verses 14-17: Then the king turned around and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel stood. He said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his hand has fulfilled what he promised with his mouth to my father David, saying, ‘Since the day that I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city from any of the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, that my name might be there; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.’ 

King Solomon blesses the people and thanks Yahweh for the fulfillment of promises. In Jesus, we find God’s ultimate promise: healing, transformation, resurrection.

King Solomon

King Solomon

Verses 22 & 23: Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands to heaven. He said, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart . . .”

King Solomon dedicates both the Temple and the people to Yahweh. In Jesus, we find God’s ultimate manifestation: compassion, justice, deep and abiding love.

Verses 62: Then the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the Lord. 

King Solomon offers sacrifices in the name of the people. Jesus offers himself as sacrifice to bring the faithful to eternal life.

Verses 65 & 66: So Solomon held the festival at that time, and all Israel with him—a great assembly, people from Lebo-hamath to the Wadi of Egypt—before the Lord our God, seven days.  On the eighth day he sent the people away; and they blessed the king, and went to their tents, joyful and in good spirits because of all the goodness that the Lord had shown to his servant David and to his people Israel.

King Solomon delights in celebrating with the people and in sending them rejoicing to their tents. Jesus delights in celebrating with and within us, in rejoicing in our willingness to open our hearts to him, and in rejoicing in the goodness of God in each of us.

Visit 1 Kings to read more of this story. Visit the scripture link above and compare the different versions found in the drop down menus. Explore this story and reflect on the joy of God’s goodness in our own lives as he visits our tents and our hearts.

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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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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