Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Name:
Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Adversaries

Daily Readings
Sirach 2 + I Kings 11 + I Chronicles 29 + Jeremiah 24

Quote of the Day
“But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able tomake this freewill offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.” I Chronicles 29:14 --David

Daily Text: I Kings 11

Adversaries
In this the final chapter of Solomon’s life we are suddenly reading of the demise of his hegemony. The reason given by the Deuteronomist is Solomon’s pandering to his wives—all 1000 of them! Anyone so enamoured of women would undoubtedly give them what they wanted, and as was the case what they wanted was a place to worship the family gods, and until late in his life Solomon created for them worship places around Jerusalem. This according to the Deuteronomist editor was why God actively worked to take the kingdom from him.

His adversaries were natural ones—three are mentioned. Hadad, an Edomite, whose countrymen were slaughtered by Joab during David’s rule, Rezon an Aramean who likewise hated all that was Israel and from a marauding band in and around Damascus make lightning forays against Solomon all his days, and finally, Jeroboam, an Israelite who alienated by Solomon and in his rebellion was promised part of the kingdom by the prophet Ahijah. Fascinating that the LORD promised Jeroboam the same future he had promised Saul and David and Solomon if he would but walk in YHWH’s ways. We suspect only that Solomon’s oppressive impressment of Israelites sparked Jeroboam’s rebellion. W do not know the nature of his rebellion, other than that he fled Jerusalem and his responsibility as one of Solomon’s supervisors. Whatever he did it was significant enough for Solomon to seek his life [cf. 12:3, 4]. None of these adversaries were effective in ending Solomon’s rule, but they were each ready to oppose Solomon’s heir, Rehoboam.

Solomon’s obituary is appended to these accounts, but is in itself normal enough to require little comment. It does reflect the reality that these ‘adversary’ accounts were drawn from multiple sources and inserted between the account of Solomon’s sin and his death.

Solomon
Thomas S. Jones, Jr.

They hewed him cedar trees of Lebanon,
And in his golden courts the people bowed
When through the seraphim a burning cloud
Covered the Temple of great Solomon;
But now the glory of the Lord is gone—
Moloch and Astoreth, the ivory-browed,
Feast on the holy mountain which he vowed
To Javeh* from the horns of Gibeon.

Yet he whose wisdom turns to weariness
Had heard once more the mighty Voice that came
When Javeh* held the King’s heart in His hand;
And though about the throne his tribesmen press,
Over their heads he sees the sword of flame
And Israel scattered through an alien land.
377:378

*Javeh is the sacred Hebrew word for Jehovah, God.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Reciprocating Wealth

Daily Readings
Sirach 1 + I Kings 10 + I Chronicles 28 + Jeremiah 3

Quote of the Day
Am I a God near bv, says the LORD, and not a God far off? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD. Jeremiah 23:23

Daily Text: I Kings 10

Reciprocating Wealth
The visit of the Queen of Sheba is instructive of the respect paid Solomon by the monarchs of his day. Whether or no this queen was who we think she was, there is an historical basis for his reputation of wisdom, wealth and worship. This queen paid respect to the man. Many are the legends that have grown up around this visit including tales of animals, the fabled wealth of her presents., and the Queen’s desire, that resulted in a man child who became king of the Ethiopians, a direct descendant of David. Whether the issue of a child is historically accurate is unsubstantiated, but the Abyssinians believe it and of certain knowledge is the possession of the Jewish faith by the Ethiopians. They claim as well to have rescued the Ark of the Covenant when it was later threatened and they claim to continue to possess it.

Solomon and the Bees
John Godfrey Saxe
I
When Solomon was reigning in his glory,
Unto his throne the Queen of Sheba came;
(So in the Talmud you may read the story)
Drawn by the magic of the monarch’s fame,
To see the splendours of his court, and bring
Some fitting tribute to the mighty King.

II
Nor this alone: much had her highness heard
What flowers of learning graced the royal speech;
What gems of wisdom dropped with every word;
What wholesome lesson he was wont to teach
In pleasing proverbs; and she wished in sooth,
To know if rumor spake the simple truth.

III
Besides, the Queen had heard (which piqued her most)
How through the deepest riddles he could spy’
How all the curious arts that women boast
Were quite transparent to his piercing eye;
And so the Queen had come—a royal guest—
To put the Sage’s cunning to the test.
IV
And straight she held before the monarch’s view,
In either hand a radiant wealth of flowers;
The one, bedeckt with every charming hue,
Was newly culled from Nature’s choicest bowers.
The other, no less fair in every part,
Was the rare product of divinest art.

V
“Which is the true, and which the false?” she said.
Great Solomon was silent. All amazed,
Each wondering courtier shook his puzzled head;
While at the garlands long the Monarch gazed,
As one who sees a miracle, and fain,
For every rapture ne’er would speak again.

VI
“Which is the true?” Once more the woman asked,
Pleased at the fond amazement of the king;
“So wise a head should not be hardly tasked
Most learned Liege, with such a trivial thing!
But still the sage was silent; it was plain
A deep’ning doubt perplexed his royal brain.

VII
While thus he pondered, presently he sees,
Hard by the casement—so the story goes—
A little band of busy bustling bees,
Hunting for honey in a withered rose.
The monarch smiled, and raised his royal head:
“Open the window!”—that was all he said.

VIII
The window opened at the King’s command.
Within the room the eager insects flew,
And sought the flowers in Sheba’s dexter hand,
And so the king and all the courtiers knew,
That wreath was Nature’s—and the baffled Queen,
Returned to tell the wonders she had seen.

IX
My story teaches (every tale should bear
A fitting moral) that the wise may find,
In trifles light as atoms of the air,
Some useful lesson to enrich the mind—
Some truth designed to profit or to please—
As Israel’s king learned wisdom from the bees.
403:114

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Child of Abraham?

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:120, 121 + I Kings 9 + I Chronicles 27 + Jeremiah 22

Quote of the Day
The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. Psalm 121:7

Daily Text: I Kings 9

Child of Abraham?
That Solomon was in the line of leaders that extended from Moses through Joshua, Samuel and David is confirmed in this passage by the repeated visitation he has from the LORD. Here he has a second vision or dream like the one at Gibeon, and in it the LORD confirms his presence with him as successor to David’s line. The confirmation is conditional, however, as it always is, conditional on his faithful obedience to the commands of God. This is always the heart of God’s way, that one walks with integrity of heart and uprightness before God and man.

This is not confirmation of the Jewish idea of being a child of Abraham and therefore always acceptable. Neither is it confirmation of the currently popular heresy of baptismal regeneration in some branches of the Christian church. The response of God to lip service without a committed life behind it is to find oneself and one’s people cut-off, and find that even the house of the LORD will become anathema (vs. 7). To be the chosen of God is bear great benefit and great responsibility. The one goes with the other. They cannot be separated. To be a child of Abraham is like being a child of God, but there is no simple ritual act that brings all of that together. It requires a life of dedication, integrity and holiness.

‘The Divine Image’
William Blake

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our Father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is man, His child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.
407:430