Archive for the ‘1 Samuel 8’ Category

The War Against the Philistines Continues   Leave a comment

Above: King Saul

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XIII

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1 Samuel 13:15b-14:52

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Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered;

let those who hate him flee before him.

–Psalm 68:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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This story presents Saul negatively.

  1. Jonathan was a superior strategist.
  2. Saul was impulsive.  Jonathan understood the element of surprise.
  3. Jonathan, unlike his father, understood that an army marches on its stomach, to steal a line from Napoleon Bonaparte.
  4. Saul, not considering that he had not acted to inform Jonathan of the ban on eating honey, was willing to execute his son for unknowingly violating the order.
  5. Ironically, the crown prince (who had started the war in 13:3) was better at fulfilling one reason many people requested a king (1 Samuel 8) than his father was.

The story presents King Saul as a man who did not grow into his job.  The past is replete with people who have had power thrust upon them.  Historical records indicate that some of these individuals grew into their offices and performed their duties well.  Historical records also indicate that many others did not rise to the occasion and the office.

King Saul comes across as one in over his head.  He comes across as one who would have been happy remaining a farmer who occasionally chased runaway donkeys.

Jonathan comes across as one who knew Saul better than Saul.  His criticism of his father (14:29) follows one version of God’s rejection of Saul (13:8-15a).  Father-son tensions are on display in this story.  The story, in which the army overrules the monarch (14:44-45), reveals that Jonathan, in one way, had an advantage over his father.

But wait, was not Saul the chosen of God (Chapter 10) until he was not (13:8-15a and 15:1-35)?  The editing of different sources into a composite narrative complicated interpretation.  Furthemore, the interpretive lens of this material was pre-Davidic Dynastic.  Nevertheless, Saul may have been subpar.  (I have no good reason to reject that conclusion.)

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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Samuel’s Farewell Address   Leave a comment

Above: Icon of Samuel

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XI

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1 Samuel 12:1-25

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I will exalt you, O God my King,

and bless your Name for ever and ever.

–Psalm 145:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The cutting and pasting of sources to create a composite narrative made some chronological inconsistencies.  Consider 1 Samuel 12:12, for example, O reader.

But when you saw that Nahash, king of the Ammonites, was advancing against you, you said to me, “No, we must have a king reigning over us”–though the LORD your God is your King.

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

People demanded a king in Chapter 8.  Nahash the Ammonite advanced against Jabesh-Gilead in Chapter 11.

If I were a Biblical literalist, this chronological inconsistency would bother me.  I would feel compelled to reconcile the chronologies.  I am not a Biblical literalist, though.

The theological meat in 1 Samuel 12 is that (1) the call for a monarchy constitutes a rejection of God, and (2) if the people and their king obey God, the future will go well.  Keep in mind, O reader, that this series of blog posts covers texts informed by hindsight.  We humans think, speak, and write of the past through the lens of our present day.  We may preserve the accuracy of the account, but we are not disoriented, objective historians.  No, the lens is the present day, with its issues and our agendas.  Therefore, 1 Samuel 12:14-15 and 12:23-25, in retrospect, constitute heartbreaking prophecy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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Anointing and Electing Saul as the King of Israel   Leave a comment

Above: Stamp of King Saul

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART IX

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1 Samuel 9:1-10:27

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Give to the King your justice, O God,

and your righteousness to the King’s Son;

That he may rule your people righteously and the poor with justice;

That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people,

and the little hills bring righteousness.

–Psalm 72:1-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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A careful reader of 1 Samuel 9:1-10:27 may get theological whiplash.  The reason for that whiplash is that an editor (perhaps Ezra) cut and pasted different sources after the Babylonian Exile.  The attitude toward the monarchy shifts in Chapter 10.  One reads of Samuel seemingly gladly anointing Saul (God’s choice, apparently) in Chapter 9 then publicly accusing monarchists of having committed idolatry and rejecting God in Chapter 10.  This anti-monarchist message echoes Chapter 8.

Saul did not seek to become the first King of Israel.  No, he sought his father’s runaway donkeys.  In the story, God worked through what seemed to be accidents to get Saul and Samuel in the same place just in time for the anointing.  That rite changed Saul, depicted as having sterling character, into a prophetic figure.  Saul was off to a good start as the King-elect of Israel.

“Saul” means “asked, requested.”  Possibly, then, Saul was not his name.  People requested a king; they got “asked, requested.”  Saul may the name tradition assigned to him postmortem.  I have heard this hypothesis in connection with his real name being Lebayu.  That issue is historically interesting, but not theologically important.

Accidents and coincidences are real.  Logically, coincidence is not causation.  Mistaking coincidence for causation leads to erroneous conclusions.  However, conclusions can be deceptive; seeming accidents and coincidences may indicate God at work, behind the scenes.  I recognize that truth in my life.  You, O reader, may also recognize it in your life.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941; AND JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1965

THE FEAST OF SARAH FLOWER ADAMS, ENGLISH UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HER SISTER, ELIZA FLOWER, ENGLISH UNITARIAN COMPOSER

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The Request for a King   Leave a comment

Above: The Statue of Samuel, Salisbury Cathedral

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART VIII

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1 Samuel 8:1-22

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Not to us, O LORD, not to us,

but to your Name give glory;

because of your love and because of your faithfulness.

Psalm 115:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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This reading reflects skepticism of the monarchy.  The source (probably E) differs from the Chronicler (see 1-2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah), who liked monarchy, especially David and his dynasty, although not most of the monarchs thereof.

Eli’s sons were not suitable successors (1 Samuel 2-4).  Neither were Samuel’s sons (1 Samuel 8:1-3).  Who would rule after Samuel?

Unlike as in Chapter 12 (where the desire for strong military leadership was the primary reason for wanting a king), the main reason for supporting the establishment of a monarchy in Chapter 8 was the desire to be like the neighboring peoples.  The desire to be like the Smiths and Joneses, so to speak, was a national failing of the Israelites.  It contributed to recurring idolatry.  This desire led to rejecting God as the proper King of Israel.  Despite Samuel’s warning, the desire to be like the neighbors remained.  The people got what they wanted.

One may think of divine judgment as giving us what we do not want.  It is that much of the time.  However, sometimes divine judgment takes the form of giving us what we desire.  We should be careful what we wish for; we may get it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941; AND JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1965

THE FEAST OF SARAH FLOWER ADAMS, ENGLISH UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HER SISTER, ELIZA FLOWER, ENGLISH UNITARIAN COMPOSER

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The Decline of the House of Eli   Leave a comment

Above: Hophni and Phinehas (Above), and Elkanah, Hannah, Samuel, and Eli (Below)

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART III

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1 Samuel 2:12-36

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The law of the LORD is perfect and revives the soul;

the testimony of the LORD is sure and gives wisdom to the innocent.

The statutes of the LORD are just and rejoice the heart;

the commandment of the LORD is clear and gives light to the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is clean and endures for ever;

the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold,

sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb.

–Psalm 19:7-10, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Hophni and Phinehas, sons of Eli, were scoundrels.  Claiming the choicest cuts of sacrificial meat (properly reserved for God) for themselves was just one of their sins.  They were the biological heirs of Eli.  They were unworthy.  The faithful priest (vs. 35-36) was Zadok (see 1 Kings 2:35), not Samuel (see 1 Samuel 8:1-3).

In a different family, Elkanah and Hannah had five more children.  And Samuel served God faithfully.

For I honor those who honor Me, and those who spurn Me shall be dishonored.

–1 Samuel 2:30c, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

One can dishonor God via sins of commission and sins of omission.  By that standard, Eli had committed sons of omission when he permitted Hophni and Phinehas to get away with their bad behavior.  All these men received punishment for their sins, although Eli got off more lightly than his sons did.

Divine judgment and mercy exist in balance in both the Old and New Testaments.  Hellfire-and-damnation people err on one side.  The opposite error is also commonplace.  Standards exist.  Violating them carries consequences.  Yet divine judgment is never capricious, and mercy is ever-present.  People condemn themselves; chickens come home to roost.  That may be more terrifying than the judgment of God, as hellfire-and-damnation preachers proclaim it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941; AND JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1965

THE FEAST OF SARAH FLOWER ADAMS, ENGLISH UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HER SISTER, ELIZA FLOWER, ENGLISH UNITARIAN COMPOSER

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The Individual and the Collective V   1 comment

Above:  Fresco of Samuel

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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1 Samuel 8:4-20; 11:14-15 or Jeremiah 19:1-6, 10-12a

Psalm 106:1-16, 19-23, 47-48

Romans 8:1-11

Luke 12:35-48

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These assigned readings pertain to collective matters–sins, punishment for sins, and life in the Holy Spirit.  The context is that of a group–a faith community, a kingdom, et cetera.  All of that is consistent with the Biblical theme of mutuality.  We are responsible to and for each other.

Collective guilt and responsibility may seem unfair, assuming a certain perspective.  For example, sometimes a court releases a wrongly-convicted person who has spent years in prison yet whom evidence has exonerated.  Perhaps an expert witness lied under oath.  Maybe DNA has proven the prisoner’s innocence.  Perhaps the prisoner pleaded guilty to a lesser charge to avoid a certain conviction on a more severe charge.  Maybe the testimony of eyewitnesses proved to be unreliable, as it frequently does.  Perhaps the prosecutor engaged in professional misconduct by withholding exculpatory evidence.  Either way, taxpayers have borne the financial costs of what went wrong, leading to the incarceration of an innocent person.  And taxpayers may bear the financial costs of paying reparations to the wrongly convicted.  We not begrudge giving a liberated, wrongly-convicted person a fresh start and the financial means to begin a new life, do we?  We know, after all, that the wrongly-convicted person has paid for the actions of others with time in prison.

Whatever one person does affects others, whether one behaves as a private citizen or in an official capacity.  Likewise, society is people.  What society does wrong and sinfully does affect even those members of it who vocally oppose those sinful actions.  Those activists for justice also suffer when their society incurs punishment for its sins.

On the other hand, given that society is people, individuals can change their society.  Individuals can improve their society or make it worse.

May all of us leave our societies better than we found them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 23, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF TOYOHIKO KAGAWA, RENEWER OF SOCIETY AND PROPHETIC WITNESS IN JAPAN

THE FEAST OF JAKOB BÖHME, GERMAN LUTHERAN MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF MARTIN RINCKART, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA MARIA OF THE CROSS, FOUNDRESS OF THE CARMELITE SISTERS OF SAINT TERESA OF FLORENCE

THE FEAST OF WALTER RUSSELL BOWIE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, SEMINARY PROFESSOR, AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2020/04/23/devotion-for-proper-19-year-c-humes/

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Liberation in God   1 comment

Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee

Above:  Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, by Ludolf Bakhuizen

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Genesis 14:1-24

Psalm 110

Matthew 8:14-34 or Mark 5:1-20

Hebrews 7:1-28

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The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind,

“You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

–Psalm 110:4, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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Psalm 110 is a text that speaks of divine assurance of victory for a priest-king.  “Priest-king” is a description that applies to the mysterious Melchizedek, King of (Jeru)Salem, perhaps a Gentile follower of YHWH.  The meaning of Psalm 110 is vague and the text of Genesis 14 concerning Melchizedek is ambiguous, but the political use of the Melchizedek story, centuries later was clear.  David and his descendants are worthy to perform certain priestly roles, subsequent royal publicity experts claimed.

The use of certain passages of scripture to convince people to obey their leaders is an old strategy.  My bias in this question is to resist the use of scripture to control people.  No, I argue, following God is about liberation–to follow God and to build up communities and other groups of people.  The truth of God is frequently contrary to the message of many human authority figures.  I think also of Samuel’s warning about the dangers of monarchy in 1 Samuel 8:10-18.

Jesus liberates us to love others as we love ourselves.  He frees to build up the whole, not seek selfish gains and hurt others in the short, medium, and long terms, as well as ourselves in the long run.  Jesus liberates us to take up a cross and follow him.  He frees us to glorify and enjoy God forever.  Jesus invites us to die–to self, at least–and perhaps, literally, for him.  Jesus liberates us to become our best selves in God.

How do we respond to Jesus?  Do we seek to honor him one way or another?  Or do we make excuses for why we refuse to follow him?  Perhaps we find Jesus threatening, maybe to our livelihood, and/or our identity (regarding who and what we are not, rather than who and what we are) and demand that he leave us alone.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 31, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/devotion-for-the-first-sunday-of-christmas-year-d/

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Posted August 31, 2016 by neatnik2009 in 1 Samuel 8, Genesis 14, Hebrews 7, Mark 5, Matthew 8, Psalm 110

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Obeying or Resisting the Will of God   1 comment

Abimelech

Above:  Abimelech

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Creator God, you prepare a new way in the wilderness,

and your grace waters our desert.

Open our hearts to be transformed by the new thing you are doing,

that our lives may proclaim the extravagance of your love

given to all through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 29

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The Assigned Readings:

Judges 9:7-15

Psalm 20

1 John 2:18-28

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Now I know that the LORD has given deliverance to his king;

from his heavenly sanctuary he responds to him,

sending his mighty power which always saves.

Some draw attention to their chariots, some to their horses,

 but for our part we draw attention to the LORD, our God.

They crumble and fall,

but we will rise and continue on our way.

The LORD had delivered the king;

he answers us when we call.

–Psalm 20:7-10, Harry Mowvley, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989)

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Psalm 20 contains a monarchical perspective, but Judges 9 does not.  In Judges 9 we read of Abimelech, son of Gideon (Jerubbabel).  We learn of Abimelech’s three-year-long local reign at Shechem, of his violent rise to power, and of his violent demise.  The text makes plain that Abimelech’s reign was contrary to the will of God and that of God was supposed to be the only king of the Israelites.  The thematic link of Samuel’s warning in 1 Samuel 8 is obvious.

1 John we find a letter to a congregation recovering from a traumatic schism.  The schismatics were probably Gnostics, based on internal evidence from the document.  The author, who was possibly St. John the Evangelist, advised his audience to remain strong in Christian faith and to continue to reject teachings of antichrists (note the plural form of the word, O reader), who reject Christ.  Gnostics seem like probable antichrists in this context, given their theological position that Jesus was not really incarnate and therefore could not have died on the cross.  That which is material, they said, is evil.  They taught, therefore, that Jesus was a phantom.  So much for Christianity!  There is no Christianity without the Incarnation and all that followed it in the earthly life of Jesus.

The thematic glue for this day’s assigned readings is the will of God–specifically, acting in accordance with it or contrary to it.  Stating that one should act according to the will of God is easy, but discerning that will can be difficult.  Many people who have claimed to know the divine will have acted such that their deeds have belied their protestations of righteousness.  I make no pretense of knowing the mind of God better than anyone else, but I affirm some helpful principles.  These include:

  1. Love you neighbor as you love yourself.
  2. Respect the image of God in all other people actively.
  3. Act toward others as you want them to behave toward you.
  4. Follow Jesus.
  5. Refrain from attempting to domesticate him and/or his message.
  6. If you must err, do so on the side of compassion, not fear or hatred.

Stating those principles is easier than practicing them, I realize, but one need not rely on one’s own power to live righteously in one’s society; grace abounds.  May God deliver each of us from all that stands between us and righteousness.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 4, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS COTTERILL, ENGLISH PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CALABRIA, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE POOR SERVANTS AND THE POOR WOMEN SERVANTS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH MOHR, AUSTRIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/devotion-for-tuesday-after-the-fifth-sunday-in-lent-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Rejecting or Accepting God, Part I   1 comment

Samuel Blesses Saul Gustave Dore

Above:  Samuel Blesses Saul, by Gustave Dore

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Sovereign God, you turn your greatness into goodness for all the peoples on earth.

Shape us into willing servants of your kingdom,

and make us desire always and only your will,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 50

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 8:1-18 (Monday)

1 Samuel 10:17-25 (Tuesday)

Psalm 37:23-40 (Both Days)

Hebrews 6:1-12 (Monday)

Hebrews 6:13-20 (Tuesday)

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Keep innocence and heed the thing that is right,

for that will bring you peace at the last.

–Psalm 37:38, Common Worship (2000)

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The people of Israel asked for a king.  They had one already; God (Yahweh) was their monarch.  That arrangement proved unsatisfactory to a sufficient number of people for the petition for a human king to succeed.  The prophet Samuel warned against abuses of monarchy, to no avail.  Saul became the first in a line of kings, and Samuel proved to be correct.

The request for a human king constituted a rejection of God.  Rejecting God after having accepted God is committing apostasy, or falling away from God, which is what the author of the Letter to the Hebrews warned against doing.  Committing apostasy is possible via free will; grace is not irresistible for those not predestined to Heaven.  (There goes one-fifth of TULIP, the five points of Calvinism.)  Maintaining a healthy relationship with God requires both divine grace and human free will, which exists because of the former.  Thus everything goes back to grace, not that free will ceases to be relevant.  May we use our free will to cooperate with divine grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2015 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-proper-24-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Two Kingdoms I   1 comment

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

Above:  David Entrusts a Letter to Uriah

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

O God, we thank you for your Son,

who chose the path of suffering for the sake of the world.

Humble us by his example,

point us to the path of obedience,

and give us strength to follow your commands,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 46

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Samuel 11:2-26 (Monday)

2 Samuel 11:27b-12:15 (Tuesday)

Psalm 17 (Both Days)

Revelation 3:1-6 (Monday)

Revelation 3:7-13 (Tuesday)

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Hear my just cause, O Lord; consider my complaint;

listen to my prayer, which comes not from lying lips.

Let my vindication come forth from your presence;

let your eyes behold what is right.

Weigh my heart, examine me by night,

refine me, and you will find no impurity in me.

My mouth does not trespass for earthly rewards;

I have heeded the words of your lips.

My footsteps hold fast in the ways of your commandments;

my feet have not stumbled in your paths.

–Psalm 17:1-5, Common Worship (2000)

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Those words, in the context of the story of David and Bathsheba, have the hollow ring of irony.  They also belie the reputation of the Church at Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) and fit the Church at Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13).  With that introduction I announce that this post focuses on the theme of two kingdoms–one of human origin and exploitative, the other of divine origin and just.  The Book of Revelation/Apocalypse of John is about, among other topics, God destroying the corrupt and exploitative status quo ante then establishing in its fullness the Kingdom of God.

Charles Harold (C. H.) Dodd wrote in his short book, The Founder of Christianity (1970), that, since God exists beyond time, the Kingdom of God is really never closer to or further away from us at any point in time than another.  He wrote, however, that, since we mere mortals experience time as we do, the Kingdom of God seems closer or further away at some times than at others.  And, he continued, certain events make the Kingdom of God more apparent than it was previously.  Among these was the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity as Jesus of Nazareth.

Other reading I have done has brought to my attention the concept of the Kingdom of God as being apparent in the person of Jesus and in his ministry yet not unveiled fully yet.  The Kingdom of God, it seems, has been unveiling for a long time, at least from a human perspective.

The Kingdom of God functions in the New Testament as, among other things, a scathing critique of the Roman Empire.  The Emperor Augustus, who had restored order out of the chaos of the demise of the Roman Republic, was, according to propaganda, the savior of the (Roman) world.  Coinage proclaimed him the “Son of God” (in Latin, of course).  Therefore claims that Jesus was the “Son of God” and the savior of the world attracted official Roman attention of the dangerous variety.  The foundations of the Roman Empire included violence, economic exploitation, and slavery.  In contrast, the foundations of the Kingdom of God are quite unlike those of the Roman Empire or any other tyrannical state of the past, present, or future.

This brings me to the Kingdom of Israel.  One does well to reread 1 Samuel 8:10-18, the text of which from the Revised English Bible (1989) follows:

Samuel reported to the people who were asking him for a king all that the LORD had said to him.  “This will be the sort of king who will rule over you,” he said.  “He will take your sons and make them serve in his chariots and with his cavalry, and they will run before his chariot.  Some he will appoint officers over units of a thousand and units of fifty.  Others will plough his fields and reap his harvest; others again will make weapons of war and equipment for chariots.  He will take your daughters for perfumers, cooks, and bakers.  He will seize the best of your fields, vineyards, and olive groves, and give them to his courtiers.  He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage to give to his eunuchs and courtiers.  Your slaves, both men and women, and the best of your cattle and your donkeys he will take for his own use.  He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.  There will come a day when you will cry out against the king whom you have chosen; but the LORD will not answer you on that day.”

And he will have the power to take your wives and arrange for you to die merely because you have become inconvenient.

God is a much better king.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 20, 2014 COMMON ERA

PROPER 11:  THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL HANSON COX, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND ABOLITIONIST; AND HIS SON, ARTHUR CLEVELAND COXE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF WESTERN NEW YORK, HYMN WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSEGIUS OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH CADY STANTON, AMELIA BLOOMER, SOJOURNER TRUTH, AND HARRIET ROSS TUBMAN, WITNESSES TO CIVIL RIGHTS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS AND WOMEN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN II OF ANTIOCH AND ELIAS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCHS

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Adapted from This Post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-proper-17-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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