Archive for the ‘Psalm 119:73-176’ Category

Enemies and Threats, Real and Perceived   1 comment

Above:  The Temple of Artemis (1886), by Ferdinand Knab

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 2:3-9 or Acts 19:23-41

Psalm 119:129-144

Revelation 1:1-8

John 5:19-47

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God has breathed life into we human beings and spoken to us.  God has spoken to us frequently and in different ways.  God has never ceased to speak to us.  God has even become incarnate.

But how many of us are listening to God?

The words from God can be extremely inconvenient sometimes.  Human nature is a constant factor.  Any perceived threat to the economy (as at Ephesus, in Acts 19:23-41) can become a cause of outrage.  This outrage may lead to a riot, therefore to possible peril for some, such as St. Paul the Apostle and his traveling companions.

Some of the politics of 85 C.E. or so (the time of the composition of Luke-Acts) probably informed the telling of Acts 19:23-41.  We human beings always filter the past through the lens of our present day, even when we recount the details accurately.  The depiction of Roman officials in Ephesus as protectors of St. Paul the Apostle and his traveling companions seems, in the present day of 85 C.E. or so, a political message:  Christians are not enemies of the Roman Empire.

Above:  Site of the Temple of Artemis, Ephesus

Image Source = Google Earth

Nevertheless, Christianity may be a foe of certain forms of commerce–the silver shrines of Artemis, in the case of Acts 19:23-41.  One consequence of living in such a way that one follows Jesus may be that one no longer purchases X.  And one consequence of the growth of Christianity may be that the market for X diminishes.  Some people, whose livelihoods depend upon a healthy market for X, may become fearful.  Then what might they do?

Nevertheless, one needs to continue to follow Jesus.  One needs to keep listening to God.  We need to persist in following Jesus and listening to God.

By the way, the great Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, once one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is a ruin.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 14, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MACRINA THE ELDER, HER FAMILY, AND SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE ELDER

THE FEAST OF SAINT CAESARIUS OF ARLES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; AND SAINT CAESARIA OF ARLES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS

THE FEAST OF EIVIND JOSEF BERGGRAV, LUTHERAN BISHOP OF OSLO, TRANSLATOR, AND LEADER OF THE NORWEGIAN RESISTANCE DURING WORLD WAR II

THE FEAST OF KRISTEN KVAMME, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT SAVA I, FOUNDER OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH AND FIRST ARCHBISHOP OF THE SERBS

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2021/01/14/devotion-for-proper-8-year-d-humes/

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Rich in Good Deeds   2 comments

Above:  The Pool of Bethesda

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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Zephaniah 1:1-18 or Proverbs 25:6-22

Psalm 119:73-77, 103-105

1 Timothy 6:9-21

John 5:1-18

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Idols abound.  They include wealth, power, prestige, and foreign religions.  Even the most well-meaning people are vulnerable to these temptations.

As we read in 1 Timothy 6, we should be rich in good deeds.  As we read in Psalm 119, we should delight in the Law of God.  And, as even much of Second Temple Judaism affirmed, performing a good deed on the Sabbath is acceptable.

Those who criticized Jesus for healing on the Sabbath in John 5:16f seemed not to have cared about that final detail.  Sabbath laws were flexible in Second Temple Judaism, or at least in portions thereof.  There were schools of Judaism.  And, within each school, personal agendas informed how some people responded and reacted to various deeds on the Sabbath.

None of this should surprise us–especially Gentiles.  I recall a saying from my formative years (as a United Methodist) in southern Georgia, U.S.A., in the Bible Belt:

There are Baptists, then there are Baptists.

So, may we lay aside the stereotype of Second Temple Judaism as a legalistic religion with works-based righteousness.  May we do so as we follow the advice (from 1 Timothy 6) to be rich in good works.  After all, one knows a tree by its fruits.

We can take nothing with us when we die.  We can, at that time, however, leave a legacy of faithful, active love.  We can leave a legacy of trust in God, love of God, and love of our fellow human beings.  We can leave the world better than we found it.  We can leave this life rich in good deeds.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 4, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH ANN SETON, FOUNDRESS OF THE AMERICAN SISTERS OF CHARITY

THE FEAST OF FELIX MANZ, FIRST ANABAPTIST MARTYR, 1527

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GREGORY OF LANGRES, TERTICUS OF LANGRES, GALLUS OF CLERMONT, GREGORY OF TOURS, AVITUS I OF CLERMONT, MAGNERICUS OF TRIER, AND GAUGERICUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN LUDWIG FREYDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

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Adapted from these posts:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2021/01/04/devotion-for-the-ninth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-d-humes/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2021/01/04/devotion-for-proper-7-year-d-humes/

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The Reigns of Kings Abijah/Abijam and Asa of Judah   Leave a comment

Above:  King Abijah/Abijam of Judah

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 LXVIII

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1 Kings 15:1-24

2 Chronicles 13:1-16:14

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O LORD, your word is everlasting;

it stands firm in the heavens.

Your faithfulness remains from one generation to another;

you established the earth, and it abides.

By your decree these continue to this day,

for all things are your servants.

–Psalm 119:89-91, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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King Rehoboam of Judah (Reigned 928-911 B.C.E.)

King Abijah/Abijam of Judah (Reigned 911-908 B.C.E.)

King Asa of Judah (Reigned 908-867 B.C.E.)

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The reign of King Rehoboam of Judah (1 Kings 12:1-15; 1 Kings 14:21-31; 2 Chronicles 10:1-12:16) was undistinguished, to be polite.  It included the division of the united monarchy and humiliation by a Pharaoh.

The brief reign of King Abijah/Abijam of Judah was also undistinguished, except by sin and warfare, mainly.  Yet the author of 2 Chronicles emphasized that the divine promise to King David remained in effect, and that God granted Judah victory over Israel and King Jeroboam I in combat.

The evaluation of King Asa of Judah is somewhat positive, in contrast to those of his two immediate predecessors.  We read of his long reign, of his faithfulness to God, of his religious reforms, of his war against King Baasha of Israel, and of his failure to trust God during that war.  We also read of King Asa’s unjust actions in reaction against a prophetic critique in 2 Chronicles 16.

We read:

…yet Asa’s heart was undivided as long as he lived.

–2 Chronicles 15:17b, The New American Bible (1991)

Really?  We also read:

“Because you relied on the king of Aram and did not rely on the LORD, your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped your hand.”

–2 Chronicles 16:7, The New American Bible (1991)

Furthermore, we read:

But even in his sickness he did not seek the LORD, but only the physicians.

–2 Chronicles 16:12b, The New American Bible (1991)

Make up your mind, Chronicler!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 25:  THE TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF PHILIPP NICOLAI, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PROCLUS, ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE; AND SAINT RUSTICUS, BISHOP OF NARBONNE

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Prophets Versus King Jeroboam I of Israel   Leave a comment

Above:  King Jeroboam I of Israel

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 LXVI

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1 Kings 13:1-34

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You spurn all who stray from your statutes;

their deceitfulness is in vain.

–Psalm 119:118, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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King Jeroboam I of Israel (Reigned 928-907 B.C.E.)

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Some people tell me (in the context of science fiction series I have rewatched repeatedly) that my historical perspective, applied to any given episode, is wrong.  They tell me that I should watch each episode as a discreet unit.  Such people are objectively wrong.  They are also not history majors.  No, perspective–hindsight, in particular–is crucial.

I have already finished the project that picks up where this series of blog posts terminates.  This fact provides essential perspective that informs this post.  I know, for example, that the memorial to the errant, unnamed “man from God” from Judah who died in 1 Kings 13 remained intact centuries later, and that King Josiah of Judah (reigned 640-609 B.C.E.) left it intact.  Read 2 Kings 23:16-18, O reader.

Two themes dominate 1 Kings 13.  The first is that the Temple in Jerusalem was the only proper place to offer sacrifices to God, and that priests must come from Levite stock.  The second theme is that deviations from divine instructions leads to death.

Deviation from divine instructions does not always lead to death, but it does always carry negative consequences.  In fact, obedience to divine commands may lead to negative consequences in this life, too.  The question one should ask oneself is not how to avoid all negative consequences.  Doing so is impossible.  No, one ought to ask oneself, 

What kind of person do I want to be?

I, putting my historian’s hat back on, recall reading the transcript of a somewhat profane exchange between Governor George C. Wallace of Alabama and President Lyndon Baines Johnson in the Oval Office.  LBJ, in favor of lowering barriers to African Americans voting, pressured Wallace on this issue.  The Governor responded with lies about how powerless he allegedly was and how this was really a matter for local officials.  LBJ’s rejection of of those falsehoods was both accurate and profane.  The LBJ asked the Governor how he (Wallace) wanted people to remember him (Wallace)–as a man who loved or a man who hated.

What kind of person do you, O reader, want to be?  Do you want to love or to hate your neighbors?  Do you want to love those similar to you and to hate and dehumanize those dissimilar to you?  Do you want to think about the long term first or last?  Do you want to leave the world and your part of it better than you found it?  And are you willing to pay the potentially high price for following the Golden Rule?

I know what kind of person I want to be.  I also recognize cognitive dissonance in myself.  The best news germane to this state of affairs is that I need not surrender to my lower nature.  No, grace is sufficient and plentiful.  Free will still plays a role; I still have to decide what kind of person I want to be and choose what to do regarding that grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 24, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ROSA PARKS, AFRICAN-AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF FRITZ EICHENBERG, GERMAN-AMERICAN QUAKER WOOD ENGRAVER

THE FEAST OF HENRY CLAY SHUTTLEWORTH, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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King Solomon, Women, and Violence   Leave a comment

Above:  King Solomon

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 LXIII

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1 Kings 11:1-40

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Your word is a lantern to my feet

and a light upon my path.

I have sworn and am determined

to keep your righteous judgments.

–Psalm 119:105-106, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Or not.

King Solomon committed idolatry and contended with foes, foreign and domestic.  Notably, the future King Jeroboam I of the (northern) Kingdom of Israel rose up in rebellion against King Solomon.  Jeroboam, in charge of some of the forced labor, hardly had clean hands.

1 Kings 11, reflecting a theological agenda born out of hindsight, understands royal idolatry to have caused the united kingdom’s troubles and to have led to the division of the kingdom.  I, reading the text as a historian with a strong sense of social justice, conclude that the text’s theological agenda is somewhat correct.  The worship of wealth maintained forced labor, which increased discontent and fostered domestic rebellion.  The decision of King Rehoboam, the immediate successor to Solomon, to continue forced labor, was the last straw in Chapter 12.  As for foreign enemies, any potentate had foes outside his borders.  Proper diplomacy minimized their number and increased the number of allies, though.  And some foreign leaders should have been enemies, not allies.  

I understand that the writing of certain sources and the cutting and pasting of them into composite works occurred in the context of grief for loss of national greatness.  I grasp that certain theological assumptions informed that writing of history.  I do not share all of those theological assumptions.

However, I still recognize much of contemporary value in 1 Kings 11.  Leaders reap what they sow.  Their people  and people in foreign lands also reap what the leaders sow.  May all in authority govern wisely, for the sake of all of us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 23, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES OF JERUSALEM, BROTHER OF JESUS

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Posted October 23, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 1 Kings 11, 1 Kings 12, Psalm 119:73-176

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King Solomon’s Vision   1 comment

Above:  King Solomon

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 LX

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1 Kings 9:1-9

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Sustain me according to your promise, that I may live,

and let me not be disappointed in my hope.

Hold me up, and I shall be safe,

and my delight shall be ever in your statutes.

You spurn all who stray from your statutes;

their deceitfulness is in vain.

In your sight all the wicked of the earth are but dross;

therefore I love your decrees.

My flesh trembles with dread of you;

I am afraid of your judgments.

–Psalm 119:116-120, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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This passage from 1 Kings 9 is heartbreaking.  It comes from a time after the Fall of Jerusalem.  Imagine, O reader, a pious Jew either in exile or back in his or her ancestral homeland after the Babylonian Exile.  Imagine, O reader, the author reflecting on what had gone wrong, how a united monarchy had divided into two kingdoms, and how both kingdoms had fallen to conquerors.  And imagine, O reader, the author’s perspective on the future.

Whatever we have done wrong, we can still repent.  Whatever you, O reader, have done wrong, you can still repent.  Whatever I have done wrong, I can still repent.  Whatever we/you/I have done wrong, the best future entails repentance.  Learning from the past is the main reason to study and interpret it.  May we (individually and collectively) learn the proper lessons and move constructively into the future.  May we (individually and collectively) not be like proverbial generals fighting the last war.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE MCGOVERN, U.S. SENATOR AND STATESMAN; AND HIS WIFE, ELEANOR MCGOVERN, HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF DAVID MORITZ MICHAEL, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JAMES W. C. PENNINGTON, AFRICAN-AMERICAN CONGREGATIONALIST AND PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, EDUCATOR, AND ABOLITIONIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT LAURA OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA, FOUNDRESS OF THE WORKS OF THE INDIANS AND THE CONGREGATION OF MISSIONARY SISTERS OF IMMACULATE MARY AND OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA

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Absalom in Jerusalem and David in Flight   Leave a comment

Above:  Shimei Curses David

Artist = William Hole

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 XLIII

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2 Samuel 16:1-23

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Trouble and distress have come upon me,

yet your commandments are my delight.

The righteousness of your decrees is everlasting;

grant me understanding, that I may live.

–Psalm 119:143-144, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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David was in deep trouble.  He was on the run from Absalom, who had claimed the throne and the royal concubines.  David, verbally abused, accepted that abuse.  He refused to permit Abishai to behead Shimei.  Unfortunately, David changed his mind years later (1 Kings 1:8-9) and Solomon had Shimei executed (1 Kings 2:36-46).

Mephibosheth, a grandson of King Saul, was also in trouble.  Back in 2 Samuel 9, Ziba had brought Mephibosheth to David’s attention.  David had taken Mephibosheth into the court and granted him privileges.  In 2 Samuel 16, Ziba lied–told “alternative facts,” to quote Kellyanne Conway regarding mathematics in January 2017–about Saul’s grandson.  Mephibosheth had designs on the throne, Ziba claimed.  That was a lie.  “Alternative facts” have always been objectively false.  Ziba’s statement was a lie, according to 2 Samuel 19.  Mephibosheth, by breathing and having a pulse, posed at least a theoretical threat to David’s claim to the throne.  Yet the grandson of Saul seemed not to want to become the King of Israel.

No, the main threat to David’s kingship came from Absalom, one of his sons.  Absalom’s rage against his father ran deep.  It must have been building up since long before the rape of Tamar by Amnon (2 Samuel 13).  Despite David’s flaws, his maturity in 2 Samuel 16 contrasted with Absalom’s rage.

I wish that David’s maturity had continued all way to his death, and that he had advised the continued sparing of Shimei.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 3, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE KENNEDY ALLEN BELL, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CHICHESTER

THE FEAST OF ALBERTO RAMENTO, PRIME BISHOP OF THE PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENT CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT GERARD OF BROGNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JOHN RALEIGH MOTT, U.S. METHODIST LAY EVANGELIST, AND ECUMENICAL PIONEER

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The Death and Legacy of Samuel   Leave a comment

Above:  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 XXIII

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1 Samuel 25:1

Sirach/Eccelesiasticus 46:13-20

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I am your servant; grant me understanding,

that I may know your decrees.

–Psalm 119:125, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The notice of Samuel’s death, tucked away, so to speak , in 1 Samuel 25:1a, seems like an example of,

O, by the way….

Samuel, a prophet, was the last of the judges.  He, set aside for a mission from God, performed it well.  Samuel taught the Law of Moses and anointed two kings–Saul and David.  Eli had raised sons who were unworthy heirs.  So did Samuel.  Both Eli and Samuel were holy men.  They were also mere mortals, complete with virtues and vices.

No mere mortal is perfect.  I assure you, O reader, that I know many of my flaws, some of which no other mere mortal knows.  You, O reader, may also have flaws of which you know yet no other mere mortal does.  Given that perfection is an impossible and unrealistic standard, doing as well as one can, by grace, is the ultimate goal.  It is realistic and difficult.

Samuel strove for that standard.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRUNO ZEMBOL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1942

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CAMERIUS, CISELLUS, AND LUXORIUS OF SARDINIA, MARTYRS, 303

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF EDESSA, CIRCA 304

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN OF ANTIOCH; MARTYR, CIRCA 353; AND SAINTS BONOSUS AND MAXIMIANUS THE SOLDIER, MARTYRS, 362

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Intelligence and Understanding   Leave a comment

Above:  Head of Job, by William Blake

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Trinity, Year 1

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Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)

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O God, so rule and govern our hearts and minds by thy Holy Spirit,

that being made ever mindful of the end of all things,

and the day of just judgment,

we may be stirred up to holiness of living here,

and dwell with thee forever hereafter;

through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 233

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Job 28

Psalm 119:161-176

Ephesians 2:1-10

Matthew 12:38-50

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Which literary (not historical) character speaks in Job 28?  Scholarly sources disagree.  The two candidates are Job and that idiot, Elihu.  Job 28 does not flow stylistically from Job 27, in which Job is the speaker.  The Elihu cycle is Job 32-37, of course, but Job 28 may consist of material that belongs there.  If Elihu is the speaker (as the notes in The Jewish Study Bible insist), this text proves the adage that a broken clock is right twice a day.

And [God] said to man,

“Wisdom?  It is fear of the Lord.

Understanding?–avoidance of evil.”

–Job 28:28, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

To put it another way,

Then [God] said to human beings,

“Wisdom?–that is fear of the Lord;

Intelligence?–avoidance of evil.”

–Job 28:28, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

“Fear of the Lord” is a terrible and common translation.  “Fear” should be “awe.”

More interesting, though, is “intelligence” for “understanding” in The New Jerusalem Bible.  “Understanding” is the standard translation in English.  On the other hand, Nouvelle Version Segond Revisée (1978) renders Job 28:28 as:

Puis il dit à l’homme:

Voici la crainte du Seigneur, c’est la sagesse;

S’ecarter du mal, c’est l’intelligence.

We read in Psalm 119:174-176:

I long for your salvation, Yahweh,

And your law is my delight.

Long live my soul to praise you,

and let your ordinances help me.

If I should stray like a lost sheep,

seek your servant,

For I have not forgotten your commandments.

Mitchell J. Dahood, S.J.

If we love God, we keep divine commandments.  If we love God, we do not ask for signs, faithlessly.  If we love God, we love one another, bearers of the image of God.  If we love God, we return to God after having sinned.  If we love God, we try to avoid evil.  If we love God, we embrace divine mercy for ourselves and all other recipients of it.  If we love God, we accept the present of salvation and the demands that gift makes on our lives.  Grace is free, not cheap.  If we love God, we stand in awe of God and act intelligently, with understanding, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 3, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF CAROLINE CHISHOLM, ENGLISH HUMANITARIAN AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF ELIAS BOUDINOT, IV, U.S. STATESMAN, PHILANTHROPIST, AND WITNESS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIE-LÉONIE PARADIS, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE HOLY FAMILY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MAURA AND TIMOTHY OF ANTINOE, MARTYRS, 286

THE FEAST OF SAINT TOMASSO ACERBIS, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

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Two Kingdoms III   Leave a comment

Above:  Herod Agrippa I

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity, Year 1

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Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)

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Almighty God, we beseech thee, show thy mercy unto thy humble servants,

that we who put no trust in our own merits may not be dealt with

after the severity of thy judgment, but according to thy mercy;

through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth

with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever One God, world without end.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 231

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Isaiah 35:4-10

Psalm 119:129-144

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Luke 19:11-26

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God, who vanquishes the wicked and redeems the oppressed, balances judgment and mercy.  The redemption of the oppressed is mercy for the oppressed and judgment of the oppressors.  In a real sense, oppressors doom themselves.  They do not have to be oppressors, after all.  The redemption of the oppressed may come in this life or the next one, but it will come.  God is faithful.

Now I will focus on the Gospel lesson.  The Parable of the Pounds may seem like a parallel version of the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), but it is not.  The Parable of the Talents is about personal spiritual responsibility.  The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume IX (1995), labels Luke 19:11-27 as the “Parable of the Greedy and Vengeful King.”

Follow the proverbial bouncing balls with me, O reader.

Herod the Great (reigned 47-4 B.C.E.), a Roman client king, had died, leaving sons:

  1. Archelaus;
  2. Herod Antipas, full brother of Archelaus; and
  3. Philip (the Tetrarch), half-brother of Archelaus and Herod Antipas.

Archelaus wanted to succeed his father as a client king.  Before he departed for Rome, Archelaus had about 3000 people killed.  A delegation of 50 Jews also went to Rome, to argue against Archelaus’s petition to Emperor Augustus.  The emperor made Archelaus the Ethnarch of Idumea, Judea, and Samaria instead.  Archelaus was too brutal, even by Roman imperial standards.  Augustus deposed him in 6 C.E. and exiled the would-be-king to Gaul.

Herod Antipas served as the Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 B.C.E. to 39 C.E.  He ordered the execution of St. John the Baptist, who had objected to the incestuous marriage to Herodias.  (She was the former wife of Philip the Tetrarch, as well as as Herod Antipas’s half-niece.  Salome was, therefore, Herod Antipas’s step-daughter and great-half-niece.)

Philip was the Tetrarch of Northern Transjordan from 4 B.C.E. to 34 C.E.  His territory became Herod Agrippa I’s realm in 37 C.E.  (Herod Agrippa I was Philip’s half-nephew and Herodias’s brother.)  Herod Agrippa I held the title of king from 37 to 44 C.E.

The transfer of that territory to Herod Agrippa I made Herodias jealous.  So did the act by which Emperor Tiberius had granted Lysanius, the Tetrarch of Abilene, the title of king in 34 C.E.  (Lysanius was not a member of the Herodian Dynasty.)  Herodias and Herod Antipas traveled to Rome in 39 C.E. to request that Caligula grant Herod Antipas the title of king, too.  Herod Agrippa I sent emissaries to oppose that petition.  Caligula deposed Herod Antipas and exiled the couple to Gaul.  The emperor also added the territory of Herod Antipas to that of Herod Agrippa I.  Then, in 41 C.E., Emperor Claudius (I) added Judea and Samaria to the realm of Herod Agrippa I.  Herod Agrippa died in 44 C.E.

Jesus and his audience knew the story of Archelaus, the model for the would-be-king in the Parable of the Pounds/Greedy and Vengeful King.  Likewise, the original audience for the Gospel of Luke (written circa 85 C.E.) knew the story of Herod Antipas’s ill-fated quest for the title of king.  They brought that story to this parable, too.

Not every parable of Jesus features a stand-in for God.  The newly-appointed king in the parable was not a role model.  The parable presents us with a study in contrasts between two kingdoms–the kingdom of this world and the Kingdom of God.  The kingdom of this world depends on violence, exploitation, injustice, and artificial scarcity.  The Kingdom of God is the polar opposite of the kingdom of this world.

R. Alan Culpepper, writing about this parable in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume IX (1995), 364, proposes that

The enemies of the kingdom of God will be punished no less severely than if they had opposed one of the Herods, but in God’s kingdom the greedy will be driven out of the Temple and the generous will be rewarded.

After all, we reap what we sow.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 2, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALEXANDER OF ALEXANDRIA, PATRIARCH; AND SAINT ATHANASIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, PATRIARCH AND “FATHER OF ORTHODOXY”

THE FEAST OF CHARLES SILVESTER HORNE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHARLES FRIEDRICH HASSE, GERMAN-BRITISH MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF JULIA BULKLEY CADY CORY, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIGISMUND OF BURGUNDY, KING; SAINT CLOTILDA, FRANKISH QUEEN; AND SAINT CLODOALD, FRANKISH PRINCE AND ABBOT

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