Monday, June 06, 2011

New Year: 1 Kings 1-2 for Apr 6

1 Kings 1-2, especially chapter 2, are not exactly eulogistic of David, nor are they exalted in their praise of Solomon as they introduce him. Note the absence of interpretive comment of any kind that the Lord commended the incidents of chapter 2, describing Adonijah, Joab, and Shimei's end at the command of Solomon. Perhaps there is a faint echo of the prediction of 1 Sam 8:18 on earthly kingships instead of the heavenly one.

These chapters are a comment on the perils of power and consolidation of power by the use of pretext. They are morally messy! Are the pretexts for Solomon's actions here concocted? In 2:22, Solomon describes a motive for Bathsheba's request that is disproportionate. 2:13 hints that Adonijah has peace on his mind, but the narrative doesn't necessarily endorse this. But immediately following this, the story of the treatment of Abiathar shows that Solomon's thinking was not pure pragmatism: "you are a man of death, but I will not put you to death at this time, because you carried the ark of the Lord GOD before my father David, and because you were afflicted in everything with which my father was afflicted." What an amazing comment!

Similar ambiguities exist for Joab's life and death, and Shimei's life and death. It is instructive to compare the one-sentence comment of 1 Kings 2:46b with 2 Samuel 5:10-12, although as a single explanation, it needs to be supplemented by all the actions prior to David's ascension and consolidation as king in 2 Samuel 3-5.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

New Year: 2 Sam 22-24 for Apr 5

Some of the great highlights of Old Testament religion occur in 2 Samuel 22:8-20 and 23:1-7.

In 22:8-20 the poetic and even hyperbolic language must not be set aside. We are used to the more conventional language of 22:1-7, but the verses 8-20 go beyond that! Religion in the West, where influenced by Schleiermacher, was reduced to a description of what we feel about God. In contrast, Old Testament religion teaches -- from "page 1" -- that God is the active Initiator. Not only that, but He is the Intervener in the affairs -- of whom? Of whom He chooses to, of course. That is the point of 2 Sam 22:8-20. It is an intervention of the highest kind.

As for 2 Sam 23:1-7 ... "for He has made an everlasting covenant with me, / ordered in all things, and secured" and the subsequent verses about David fighting "the worthless" are primary examples of what is to be gained from the kind of God spoken about in 23:3-4 and in the previous chapter. If God were merely an intervener and initiator, and only acted unpredictably, however well and powerfully, then He would be like perhaps a Special Forces group, which intervenes, does great things, and is gone. But no. God has done something upon which David can rely forever. So in Christ is the same thing true of us: God in Christ has done something upon which we can rely forever.

Friday, June 03, 2011

New Year: 2 Sam 19-21 for Apr 4

There are loyalties like the morning mist in this section, and faithfulness to the heavens. Joab's loyalty to the king is like the morning mist, which was gone (2 Sam 18:14), comes back in a way (19:5ff), disappears again (20:10-12), and does it reappear in 20:20?

David's loyalty to Mephibosheth is faithfulness to the heavens. With the knowledge that God Himself is visiting the sins of Saul and his house upon the kingdom (21:1), he still withholds Jonathan's son from the Gibeonite revenge, because of the "oath of the Lord which was between them, between David and Saul's son Jonathan" (21:7).