1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14 Exegetical Reflections
2009-08-14 by David Banks
As we encounter this reading, vv.10-12 indicate the presence and foundation of a structure that Solomon inherited upon David’s death. Over the course of 40 years it could be expected that the people were used to David’s pattern. We can also understand that over 40 years there would be issues that needed addressing and loose ends to tie up. The casual reader may then miss the history of Bathsheba, Uriah and Solomon’s brothers.
Moving onto chapter 3, we are made aware of a particular practice of Solomon’s; his connection to “high places” it turns out later that this connection led to less than pious practices by his wives as they offered sacrifices to foreign gods. We also encounter a “Pious” Solomon, when the truth of the matter is Solomon ends up about as pious as his father. Both had their issues, both struggled with being absolutely faithful, but like all of us, who we are and who we would like to be, don’t always match up.
When God appears to Solomon at Gibeon, a high place, in a dream, it can be argued that it like that of Samuel, it is because of the high, holy place, we also need to keep in mind that Jacob’s encounter, for example, happened when it happened, and not because of the location necessarily. What is probably being communicated, in line with the previous passages, is that this encounter is because of the zealousness and piety that is exemplified by Solomon.
The prayer that follows the encounter is the prayer of a humble, open-minded, ready-to-be-shaped, and “eager-to-be-pious-like-my-dad”, young man. Solomon points out David’s strengths and the glue that he thought kept his father connected to God. He sees himself as a blessing to his dad, the only son that did not meet an early demise. Solomon understands that he has a role and business in the lives of God’s people. Further, while he knew that there were strategic maneuvers that he had to undertake as he ascended onto the throne of his father, he also understood that future maneuvers would be without his father’s guidance. “I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.” Solomon knew he needed help. “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil,” this a request that would align his life to God’s will, and would set an example for Judeo-Christians from that point on. Moreover, Solomon acknowledges the significance and identity of the people whom he will lead and rule; God’s chosen people. Here we find arguably the first instance of a new leader asking for divine guidance and wisdom in ruling.
The reaction from his request brings hope to a pious people. If you ask for God’s will, you will be blessed beyond imagination. God essentially honors and rewards Solomon for laying aside his human condition and tendencies to practice higher decision making and piety in a “high place”. Solomon demonstrated the ability to be one who these blessings would be well suited to be showered upon. “You did not ask for yourself, but to be best king you could possibly be. This I will grant, but you will be one who is greater than any king has been or will be. You will be wise beyond your years AND those self interested things you did not ask for, you will receive those things too. You will have it all.” And he did. Solomon did have it all. His legacy was not of battles won, but of wisdom and leadership.
The irony of it all is that he did fare about as well as his father did in terms of keeping God’s statues and commandments.
Poetry at "Share It!"
2009-08-14 by David von Schlichten
How exciting it is to read a poem by my old buddy Linea Warmke. I hope others will read her poem and submit their own to our new site at "Share It!"
Yours in Christ,
David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator
Poems for and by pastors
2009-08-14 by David Howell
See Share It! for a new category: Poems
Linea Warmke has submitted a poem.
David Banks, Fear; Day 1 and Wisdom
2009-08-13 by David von Schlichten
Our guest blogger David has done a fine job of providing close, careful reflections on the texts for the week.
One salient point he mentions is the importance of respecting boundaries, especially our boundaries with God. Knowing our place and God's place is central to the idea of fearing God. David asks how we could live according to such fear.
I am the preacher for Day1 for this Sunday. My sermon is on Woman Wisdom of Proverbs 9:1-6, the first reading for some of us this Sunday. I pray you'll go to Day1.org and give me feedback. I am excited about and thankful to God for this opportunity to be on such an excellent program.
This Sunday at my congregation, however, I will be preaching the penultimate sermon in my seven-part series on a journey through hell and heaven. In that series a fictitious pastor has been guided through hell and then heaven. She is in heaven now. This Sunday she will meet up with Woman Wisdom.
Enjoying the bubbling wisdom of the tub, I am
Yours in Christ,
David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator
Aug 16, 2009; 11th Sunday in Pentecost
2009-08-11 by David Banks
1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14
“Ask what I should give you.” What would you ask for if the question was posed to you? What if you parents asked you as a child? If your spouse asked you? A friend? And with no limits? Our minds might wander from one extreme to the other.
We dream. Let’s face it, let’s be totally honest. There are things in and of this world we dream about. The dreams are for ourselves, for others, even for the world.
Everyone says they wish and pray for world peace. To end the violence and hatred which permeates society would be an amazing thing. We pray for a way to heal or even eradicate cancer and disease altogether. Watch as a child or loved one suffers, and you will know what it means to passionately pray for healing from within your soul. We pray that our churches could really understand the nature and calling of ministry. To be change agents in the world. We have been changed, if only they could know that change as well. List could go on and on.
God asked Solomon, “what should I give you?” He asked for understanding. He asked for the ability to discern what was going on with the people, he did not ask to be able to fix anything or anyone. He wanted to be able to relate to those who he could relate to.
Being able to understand and relate to people might not cure cancer or illness, but it would certainly enable us to love those immediately and indirectly affected by the disease. To understand someone can bring about a peaceful relationship. And to do either or both is exactly what the body of Christ is all about.
Jesus said that we are to love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12). What we ask for tells more about who we are as Christ followers and disciples than anything else.
“The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever” I have watched some spooky movies in my life and have found myself “creeped” out walking in the dark, in my own home, much less other places that are less familiar. Fear can be a good thing. When we fear something we tend to respect it. Alligators, I fear them. Sharks, I fear them too. I guess there are a number of things I fear in the water, probably because I am less familiar in those surroundings. Out in the wild, my fear is really limited to unknown snakes and predatory animals that are bigger than me. My fear, in both cases is less rational and more respectful. I respect what could happen if I did not exercise healthy limits and boundaries in the wild or water.
What would happen if we exercised healthy boundaries and limits in life? What would happen if we all found ourselves practicing healthy boundaries and limits with God? Maybe the more important question to wrestle with in the light of this passage is HOW do we practice healthy, faithful limits and boundaries with God. This would lead us to first, understanding God better. This would require us to understand ourselves better. And, it would lead us to living a life that exercised both understandings within the context of our everyday life. Paul knew this struggle (Romans 7:15), maybe we ought to engage the struggle with more intentionality.
“Be careful how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” I get the part about living as wise instead of unwise. This certainly makes sense. Making the most of the time we have is simple to understand as well. Wise people use their time wisely because there is no “re-wind” function in life. We can say “I wish I had” or “I wish I had not” until the day we die. Moreover, we would all like to think that we are living a “smart” life, making good sound decisions. Paul’s statement is met with astounding affirmation. But “because the days are evil”, is one of those statements that can really stir the pot.
The Days Are Evil. That would certainly preach, it might be met with skepticism, but it would preach. The notion that the Devil, the Adversary is lurking around each corner seems a little farfetched. To worry that everyone in the world is possessed would cause us to be agoraphobic or anthropophobic. But before we discount Paul, maybe we need to consider that there is, in the world, a tendency to put ourselves first, before others and before God. Argue with this, run with this; the days call us to put our own wants and needs first, above all else. Friday’s scream “Happy Hour is calling”. Each day moans, take the short-cut. Each day is filled with little attacks on our character, our Christian Character to be sure. And so, Paul implores us to, “Be careful how you live, not as unwise people but as wise.”
“The one who eats this bread will live forever.” Wouldn’t it be great to eat something and never have to worry about another thing? To eat something and never have to eat again? Well, the passage didn’t say that. This passage doesn’t really talk about hunger at all. We all know about hunger. Hunger is a feeling that is real, a real feeling with real needs. But what we are talking about doesn’t relate much to eating. This eating refers to living. This is an “eating” that takes us to eternity and not to being full. In fact, this eating has nothing to do with being hungry, this eating has everything to do with living.
I don’t know too many people who want to live forever. There are all kind of issues that come along with a long life. Mental decline, limited mobility, limited resources. I wonder if I could even afford to live passed 95, much less 150. Living forever would cause some, dare I say, problems. Maybe Jesus was talking about something else. Maybe he was talking about things that had lees to do with our temporal nature, and more to do with our spiritual body.
The People who Jesus is talking to know the bread of heaven to be that gift from above that sustained and took people from one day to the next. It was a promise, a promise within a relationship. Here Jesus breaks loose of the past and offers something more to “chew on”. It was as if Jesus was saying, “You knew the day to day bread, I give you once and forever bread.”
You are right, that is a little more than I can digest. I am used to eating when I am hungry too. What would this mean? Who would this mean? Why did they die and I won’t?
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