Archive for the ‘Michal’ Tag

The Seduction of Bathsheba and the Murder of Uriah the Hittite   Leave a comment

Above:  Uriah the Hittite Answering King David’s Summon

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 XXXVIII

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2 Samuel 11:1-27

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Give judgment for me, O LORD,

for I have lived with integrity;

I have trusted in the LORD and have not faltered.

–Psalm 26:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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This story comes to us via 2 Samuel, in the context of the Ammonite war.  1 Chronicles 19-20 omits this story, which portrays David in an unflattering light.  As a serious student of the Hebrew Bible ought to know, the Chronicler liked to make David look good.

King David was a native Israelite.  Uriah the Hittite was not.  He was also a loyal soldier in the Israelite army and a man of integrity.  Uriah’s honorable behavior contrasted with David’s dishonorable behavior and contributed to the soldier’s death in combat against Ammonite forces.

The narrative indicates that Bathsheba was a tool of King David.  It reveals her feelings only in regard to Uriah’s death.  The Bible tells us that Bathsheba was not the first woman David used for his purposes.  (That was Michal.)

The text does not tell us what Uriah’s suspicions may have been.  I guess that Uriah was no fool.  I think he did not fall of the ancient Israelite equivalent of a turnip truck.  I suspect he know something was wrong, given how insistent David was.

David had abused his power severely.  There was no turning back; this changed the course of his reign.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 1, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIONYSIUS EXIGUUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND REFORMER OF THE CALENDAR

THE FEAST OF DAVID PENDLETON OAKERHATER, CHEYENNE WARRIOR, CHIEF, HOLY MAN, AND EPISCOPAL DEACON AND MISSIONARY IN OKLAHOMA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIACRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF FRANÇOIS MAURIAC, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC NOVELIST, CHRISTIAN HUMANIST, AND SOCIAL CRITIC

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King David and Mephibosheth   1 comment

Above:  Mephibosheth Kneels Before King David

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 XXXVI

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2 Samuel 21:1-14

2 Samuel 9:1-13

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David asked, “Is there anyone belonging to Saul’s family left, to whom I might show faithful love for Jonathan’s sake?”

–2 Samuel 9:1, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Consistent chronology is not the organizing principle in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles.  Neither is it the organizing principle in this blogging project.  Thematic considerations override chronology sometimes.

Remnants of the House of Saul remained alive and constituted potential political threats to King David.  Mephibosheth, born Meribbaal, was a son of Jonathan.  (Recall, O reader, that “bosheth” means “shame.”)  David and Jonathan had made a pact (1 Samuel 18:3 and 23:18).  David honored that pact by keeping Mephibosheth alive, in the royal court, and at a place of honor, the king’s dining table.  Also, David could always watch Mephibosheth.

Mentions of Mephibosheth also occur in 2 Samuel 16 and 19.

Mephibosheth was not all that was left of the House of Saul.  There was Michal, of course.  And Saul had at least seven surviving sons.  Seven sons of Saul, despite being innocent of any offense other than being sons of Saul, died.  They died, Chapter 21 tells us, to satisfy Saul’s blood guilt and to end a three-year-long drought.  In an incident recorded nowhere else in the Bible, Saul had attempted the genocide of the Gibeonites.  Seven sons of Saul died horribly–via impaling–for their father’s sin.

I, citing Ezekiel 18, reject holding children accountable for the sins of their parents.

These two passages portray King David as a complicated figure.  We read of a man–a monarch–who kept faith/kindness/faithful love (hesed) with Jonathan’s son and simultaneously reined him in.  Mixed motives are old news; human nature is a constant factor.  One may also reasonable argue that David should have kept hesed with Michal and those seven unfortunate sons of Saul.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND THE MARGINALIZED

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

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This is post #2300 of BLOGA THEOLOGICA.

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Bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem   Leave a comment

Above:  David Dancing in the Presence of the Ark of the Covenant

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 XXXIII

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2 Samuel 6:1-23

1 Chronicles 13:1-14

1 Chronicles 15:1-16:43

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Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised;

in the city of our God is his holy hill.

Beautiful and lofty, the joy of all the earth, is the hill of Zion,

the very center of the world and the city of the great King.

God is in her citadels;

he is known to be her sure refuge.

–Psalm 48:1-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The versions from 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles are similar yet different.  The chronology differs; 1 Chronicles places the beginning of the moving of the Ark of the Covenant and the death of Uzzah (1 Chronicles 13 and 2 Samuel 6) prior to David’s defeat of the Philistines (1 Chronicles 14 and 2 Samuel 5).  The account from 1 Chronicles also omits the material from 2 Samuel 6:20-23.  The two versions also differ regarding the sacrifices in Jerusalem–an ox and a fatling (2 Samuel 6:13) or seven bulls and seven rams (1 Chronicles 15:26).  Furthermore, 1 Chronicles adds material, such as list of Levites and musicians, as well as a psalm of Thanksgiving.  Both versions have David dance in public while wearing only a small apron, as well as Michal seeing him and despising him.

At least seven points warrant consideration.

  1. Uzzah meant well.  He was not responsible for the Ark of the Covenant being on an oxcart and for the oxen stumbling.  The proper way to carry the Ark was on poles, over human shoulders.  David was responsible for the manner of transportation of the Ark.
  2. Lethal holiness struck again.  Getting too approximate to God was perilous.  This constituted a change from the presentation of God in the beginning of Genesis, when God walked in the Garden of Eden and took strolls with Abraham.
  3. Michal loved David until she did not.  No Biblical text indicates, however. that David loved her.  David treated Michal badly.
  4. David’s dance was lewd.
  5. David’s psalm of thanksgiving includes a variety of universalism–God is the God of all the Earth, not a tribal or national deity.  The case of Obed-edom, a Gittite (2 Samuel 6:9-11; 1 Chronicles 13:13-14) fits neatly with this theme.
  6. The removal of the Ark of the Covenant from Baalim/Baalam/Kiriath-jearim to Jerusalem bolstered David’s royal authority.
  7. The account in 1 Chronicles portrays David in a more flattering light than the version in 2 Samuel does.  1-2 Samuel offers more honesty about David’s flaws than 1 Chronicles does.

I arrive at a four-part summary.

  1. I dislike David.
  2. I sympathize with Michal.
  3. I sympathize with Uzzah.
  4. As much as I grasp reverence for God, I also affirm that the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity as Jesus of Nazareth contradicts lethal holiness.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND THE MARGINALIZED

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

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Abner, Ishbaal/Ishbosheth, and David   Leave a comment

Above:  The Assassination of Ishbaal/Ishbosheth

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 XXX

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2 Samuel 3:1-4:12

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The wicked are perverse from the womb;

liars go astray from their birth.

They are as venomous as a serpent,

they are like the deaf adder which stops its ears,

which does not heed the voice of the charmer,

no matter how skilled his charming.

–Psalm 58:3-5, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Ishbaal/Ishbosheth was the King of Israel in name only.  The real power behind the throne was Abner, who had made him the monarch.  Abner also began to ally himself with David.  Then Joab slew Abner for having killed Asahel in 2 Samuel 2:25-32.  Ishbaal/Ishbosheth died via assassination.  Then David had the assassins executed.

The narrative goes to great lengths to establish David’s innocence in the deaths of Abner and Ishbaal/Ishbosheth.  One may surmise that rumors of David’s complicity circulated widely.  Human nature does not change.  However, the speed at which lies circulate varies according to technology.  They spread more widely more rapidly in this age of social media than in previous times.  One may acknowledge, however, that lies spread rapidly in antiquity, too.

My only other point is to object to the use of wives–including Michal–as political pawns of powerful men, such as David.  People do have inherent dignity, do they not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND THE MARGINALIZED

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

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Posted August 30, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 2 Samuel 2, 2 Samuel 3, 2 Samuel 4, Psalm 58

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David, Nabal, and Abigail   Leave a comment

Above:  David and Abigail

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 XXIV

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1 Samuel 25:1b-44

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Fight those who fight me, O LORD;

attack those who are attacking me.

–Psalm 35:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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This story separates the two parallel stories in Chapters 23-24 and 26.

Nabal was a boor, literally.  His name meant, “boor.”  David’s forces, functioning as an unofficial police force, had guarded Nabal’s shepherds and sheep.  Nabal, however, had contempt for David, who demanded protection money.  Nabal could afford to pay it.  Abigail, wife of Nabal, acted independently to prevent David from committing violence.  She also understood that David would become the King of Israel.  God, having judged Nabal, killed him.  Abigail married David.

Meanwhile, King Saul, exceeding his rights, married off Michal to one Palti.  This action hurt both David and Michal.

David’s three wives were Michal, Ahinoam, and Michal.

I notice certain aspects of this passage.

  1. Patriarchy treats women like objects.
  2. Violence and power are frequently companions.
  3. The story depicts Saul negatively.
  4. The story presents a mixed depiction of David.
  5. Abigail is the central figure.
  6. The reference to all males in Nabal’s household (v. 22) is literally, “all who piss upon the wall.”  The same language occurs five other times, including in 1 Kings 14:10, in reference to the males of the household of King Jeroboam I of Israel.  YouTube has a video of an Independent Baptist minister (not a seminary graduate) in Arizona preaching about the importance of men urinating standing up, and, therefore, being men.  Really.
  7. The narrative goes out of its way, sometimes with difficulty, to make David look good.  The contrast between the drunken, boorish Nabal feasting like a king while the future had no provisions in the wilderness is stark.
  8. I still wonder what the men in Nabal’s household did to warrant David’s vendetta.
  9. The story depicts Abigail as a prophet.
  10. The story depicts David as consolidating his power while on the run from King Saul.

1 Samuel 25:1b-44 is an interesting tale.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 22, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JACK LAYTON, CANADIAN ACTIVIST AND FEDERAL LEADER OF THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS HRYHORII KHOMSYSHYN, SYMEON LUKACH, AND IVAN SLEZYUK, UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC BISHOPS AND MARTYRS, 1947, 1964, AND 1973

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN KEMBLE AND JOHN WALL, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS, 1679

THE FEAST OF SAINTS THOMAS PERCY, RICHARD KIRKMAN, AND WILLIAM LACEY, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1572 AND 1582

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David Forced to Flee from King David   Leave a comment

Above:  Saul Attacking David, by Guercino

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 XVIII

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1 Samuel 19:1-24

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Not because of any guilt of mine

they run and prepare themselves for battle.

Rouse yourself, come to my side, and see;

for you, LORD God of hosts, are Israel’s God.

–Psalm 59:4-5, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Samuel never saw David again to the day of his death.

–1 Samuel 15:35a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Not unless one counts 1 Samuel 19:22-24, from a different source.  This is just one example of a contradiction that resulted from the cutting and pasting of sources into a composite narrative.

Back in 1 Samuel 10:9-12, after his anointing as the King of Israel, the Spirit of God gripped Saul.  He, amid a band of prophets, spoke in ecstasy with them.

Is Saul too among the prophets?

–1 Samuel 10:11, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Yes.

Is Saul too among the prophets?

–1 Samuel 19:24, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

No.  Saul had become an oath-breaking monarch who openly attempted murder and will willing to kill his son-in-law in bed.  Saul had lost the support of Michal (his daughter and David’s wife) and Jonathan (his son and David’s friend and son-in-law).  Saul had lost his dignity and honor.  Saul had lost God’s blessing.  David, in the company of Samuel, had gained it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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Posted August 15, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 1 Samuel 10, 1 Samuel 15, 1 Samuel 19, Psalm 59

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King David’s Jealousy of David   Leave a comment

Above:  Princess Michelle Benjamin with David Shepherd, in Kings (2009)

A Screen Capture

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

PART XVII

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1 Samuel 18:6-30

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Rescue me from my enemies, O God;

protect me from those who rise up against me.

Rescue me from evildoers

and save me from those who thirst for my blood.

See how they lie in wait for my life,

how the mighty gather together against me;

not for any offense or fault of mine, O LORD.

–Psalm 59:1-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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David had become a political threat to King Saul.  Usually, a monarch received credit for his warriors’ successes.  Yet David, not Saul, received credit for David’s successes.  The author understood divine favor to account for David’s successes.  Saul, already unhinged, became jealous.  He tried to arrange David’s death while luring the great warrior into false sense of comfort.  Saul’s plan to kill David by placing him at the head of the troops (verse 13) was like David’s plan (in 2 Samuel 11) to kill Uriah the Hittite.  Saul established a seemingly high bride price for his daughter Michal.  David paid double.

Michal loved David (verses 20 and 28).  In the Hebrew Bible, she was the only woman whom the text described as loving her man.

David, by marrying Michal, received the right of succession, behind Saul’s sons.  Again the promise passed through the younger child–in this case, Michal.

Saul’s strategy in this chapter reminds me of Don Vito Corleone’s advice in The Godfather (1972):

Keep you friends close and your enemies closer.

Even that plan failed, for, as the author wanted the audience to know, God favored David.  Saul, however, was not finished trying to kill David.  The unhinged monarch continued to attempt to terminate David with extreme prejudice in 1 Samuel 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 26,

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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Psalm 18   1 comment

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POST VI OF LX

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The Book of Common Prayer (1979) includes a plan for reading the Book of Psalms in morning and evening installments for 30 days.  I am therefore blogging through the Psalms in 60 posts.

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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 everlasting 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 226

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One tradition attributes Psalm 18 to King David, in the context of his victories over Philistines.  Davidic authorship is less than certain, given the ancient and widely accepted ancient custom of writing something then giving credit to a famous dead person.  What is certain, however, is that Psalm 18 and 2 Samuel 22 are similar in content.

The author, writing as David, thanks God for the victories.  The line

Yahweh rewarded me because I was just

(Mitchell J. Dahood translation)

recurs.  The description of King David as just confounds me, even within the Psalm.  (Never mind the shabby treatment of Michal and the subsequent murder of Uriah the Hittite.)  This text reads like Davidic Dynastic propaganda to me.

The author’s descriptions of official violence disturb me.  The boasts of having pulverized, exterminated, and trampled his enemies as if they were dust, for example, are troubling.  I understand that violence is, under certain circumstances, a legitimate and necessary (for national defense) activity of a state or kingdom, but I think of it as a sad necessity, not a reason to boast.

Nevertheless, the author’s recognition of dependence upon God in triumph is refreshing.  It is easy to admit one’s dependence on God during difficult times, but perhaps less so when one is “on top.”  The urge to sing one’s own praises to the exclusion to those of God can be a powerful temptation.

May we glorify God during good times, bad times, and the times in between.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 31, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS

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Jesus and Uzzah   1 comment

Ark in Jerusalem

Above:  David Brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.

With your abundant grace and might,

free us from the sin that would obstruct your mercy,

that willingly we may bear your redeeming love to all the world,

for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 19

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Samuel 6:1-11 (Thursday)

2 Samuel 6:12-19 (Friday)

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26 (Both Days)

Hebrews 1:1-4 (Thursday)

Hebrews 1:5-14 (Friday)

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Your love, O LORD, for ever will I sing;

from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness.

For I am persuaded that your love is established for ever;

you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens.

–Psalm 89:1-12, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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God, I am convinced, does not change, but human perceptions of God do.  They have transformed, in fact.  The Bible records some of those inconstant perceptions of the divine.

Consider, for example, the Ark of the Covenant, O reader.  It was a tangible link to the intangible God.  Unfortunate Uzzah, out of piety, reached out to steady the Ark, which oxen were causing to tip.  He died.  2 Samuel 6:7 tells us that God was angry with Uzzah and struck him dead.  That verse does not reflect my understanding of God.

Later in 2 Samuel 6 King David danced immodestly in public.  Michal’s scorn was justified.  The author of the text seemed to have a different opinion.

In contrast to the deity who allegedly struck Uzzah dead, we have a high Christological text in Hebrews 1:1-14.  Jesus, the reflection of the divine glory, is greater than the angels, it says.  Yet people touched Jesus and found healing, not death.  He was God in the flesh (however that worked), among people, dining in homes, and weeping.  Although the scriptures do not record any such incident, I think it likely that he had some deep belly laughs.  In Jesus, my faith tells me, I see God.

Uzzah should have lived a few centuries later, for Jesus would have blessed him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 27, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR CAMPBELL AINGER, ENGLISH EDUCATOR, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT AEDESIUS, PRIEST AND MISSIONARY; AND SAINT FRUDENTIUS, FIRST BISHOP OF AXUM AND ABUNA OF THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH

THE FEAST OF THE VICTIMS OF THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/devotion-for-thursday-and-friday-before-the-fourth-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Posted October 28, 2014 by neatnik2009 in 2 Samuel 6, Hebrews 1

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1 Samuel and 1 Corinthians, Part III: Power and the Abuses Thereof   1 comment

palestinian-barrier1

Above:  Palestinian Barrier

Image Source = Marc Venezia

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Israel-Palestinian_Wall_Ich_Bin_Eine_Berliner.jpg)

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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 everlasting 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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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 25:1-22 (August 9)

1 Samuel 25:33-44 (August 10)

Psalm 85 (Morning–August 9)

Psalm 61 (Morning–August 10)

Psalms 25 and 40 (Evening–August 9)

Psalms 138 and 98 (Evening–August 10)

1 Corinthians 3:1-23 (August 9)

1 Corinthians 4:1-21 (August 10)

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Some Related Posts:

1 Corinthians 3-4:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/sixth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/seventh-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/eighth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/proper-1-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/proper-2-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/labor-day-u-s-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/week-of-proper-17-tuesday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-17-wednesday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/week-of-proper-17-thursday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-17-friday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/proper-3-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/week-of-proper-17-saturday-year-2/

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1 Samuel 25 consists of one story, one which context brings alive.  Saul was killing people who helped David.  The monarch missed some of them, but anyone who aided David risked his or her life.  The kingdom was in a state of civil war.  And Nabal, a rich, churlish, boorish, and disreputable fool, was, according to social conventions, supposed to extend hospitality to David and his men.  Yet, under the threat from Saul, this was a great risk.  And Nabal was a lout anyway.  So he acted like the lout he was.  Abigail, his wife, prevented violence.  And Nabal suffered a stroke and died.  Then Abigail married David, who already had another wife, Ahinoam.

David, of course, had married Michal before any of the events, but Saul, in violation of law, had given his daughter to another man.  Michal, The Jewish Study Bible notes tell me, was the only woman the Hebrew Bible describes as loving a man, in this case, David.

The social status of women is of the essence here.  They were chattel, to be given to men.  Yet Abigail’s shrewdness prevents bloodshed.  She might be chattel, but she is a crucial actor in the story.  And Michal’s mistreatment at the hands of powerful men continues, as it will persist.

Power is necessary in certain concentrations, for, without it, chaos results.  But power can also exist in excessive concentrations; that results in tyranny.  The proper exercise of power lifts up the weak, the marginalized, and those labeled chattel; it does not exploit them.  The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4 that he, working for God, had suffered and was suffering.  Powerful people who abused their authority caused that suffering.  And other people consented to it.

May all of us who claim to be on God’s side aid others to the best of our ability and support those who suffer from abuses of power.  May we side with the victims, not those who victimize them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 15, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN EDUCATORS AND INTELLECTUALS

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HERRICK, POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA OF AVILA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/devotion-for-august-9-and-10-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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