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Sunday, April 23, 2017

1 Chronicles 1-2

So, I am now reading from three books at the same time.  The generally accepted date of authorship for the Psalms is similar to that for the Deuteronomic History, it appears to me.  Chronicles, although classically consider to be connected to Ezra & Nehemiah, may actually have been written much later, according to the introductory commentary in the New Interpreter's Bible from the 1990s I'm reading.

This is all a way of saying that I don't get anything more from the several chapters of genealogy that open Chronicles than I do from the Psalms.  They do list the Canaanite ancestry, which I used to see as being honest about a checkered past (in the eyes of the Israelites, I'm not dissing any Canaanites).  But, I've since read that this was important to explain the presence of Canaanite descendants in Israel in light of the tradition that they, you know, killed them all.  :( 

Ps. 6, 8-10, 14, 16, 19, 21

You know what?  I just don't get the Psalms.  They seem like pretty unconnected jumbles of praise and lamentation.  Every once in a while I'll read one and say, "Wow, that phrase is kind of striking," only to realize it is just that it's a psalm I've heard before.


Friday, April 21, 2017

2 Sam. 1-4

This passage is about David consolidating his power.  He is anointed kind of Judah.  (P.S. Saul's son is merely installed king of Israel.)  Then all of his enemies are killed, through no fault of David's, and while these deaths establish the conditions for him to be king of a United Kingdom of Israel, he takes no pleasure in learning of their deaths.  Instead, he punishes all those responsible for them. 

David is established as a noble leader.  Maybe even chivalrous.  I've mentioned several times how these wars remind me of medieval legends reporting in the Canterbury tales or Don Quixote.  Obviously, the medieval legends borrow from these themes. 

Civility is a tool of the oppressor.  Is nobility?  In the practice of law, there is a tension between zealously advocating for your client and behaving with professional dignity.  I say dignity because things that fall into that category are often about status for the actor.  I grant an extension because I am an upright lawyer, above the fray.  Was that fair to my client who would have been advantaged by denying the extension?  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ps. 121, 123-125, 128-130

The selections will get choppy as we attempt to maintain the chronological approach to reading the Scriptures.  I'll be reading Second Samuel, Psalms and First Chronicles.  All deal with King David's reign.  Based on a briefing reading of the New Interpreter's Bible Introduction to Psalms, it appears that it was written generally at the same time as the Deuteronomic and Priestly selections of the Old Testament, around the time of the exile (590 BCE - 530 BCE -ish) 

Each of the Psalms in today's reading is short.  Psalm 121 is directed to the reader, not God, and encourages faith in God.  There is a real mix of lamentation and praise.  So, Psalm 123, 129, and 130 talk about oppression and suffering.  Psalm 124, on the other hand, claims that but for God's intervention, we'd all be doomed.  And then Psalm 128 is almost straight up prosperity gospel about how great God is to the righteous.

Psalm 130 is my favorite because of its hopefulness.
A song of ascents.

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
2 Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.

3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
The Psalms are also so much more individual focused than what we've read so far in the Old Testament.  And this bit about forgiveness of sins, of "my" sins, seems downright New Testament.  And of course, the New Testament didn't come out of nowhere, right?  Obviously its claims have to be rooted in the belief system of first century Jews, which in turn are rooted in the works I'm reading now.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

1 Sam. 28-31 (the end); Ps. 18

Saul, Saul, Saul.  This poor guy cannot catch a break.  God has abandon him, even while he admits that he has sinned; but he admits he has sinned a lot.  I've really fallen in love with how well drawn this Saul is.  After God won't answer his questions, and neither will the urim and neither will the prophets, he decides to go to a medium--in disguise because, you know, he just go done expelling them all from Israel.  Then she summons Samuel from the dead.

Notes on this, Samuel comes up from the ground to join Saul as a ghostly figure and basically tells him if God won't help you neither will I.  So, are we to believe that this person who is not a prophet of God can summon spirits?  Spirits are floating around under the ground?  This is in fact a pretty rough clash of ancient and modern scientific understanding of the world.

Samuel is popping up from "Underworld."  Realize, this is not the point of the story.  It is an assumed fact around it.  

The intrigue continues.  David has pledged allegiance to a foreign king and it looks like he and his army may actually go against the Israelites under Saul's command.  Although that doesn't happen because the Philistine generals, with whom this new king is buddies, are like, "Hey, we remember that dude.  Uh, no, we're not going into battle with him."  David executes a daring rescue of his family and the whole city which had been plundered by the Amalakites while he was off almost fighting against the Israelites.  But, this book is really about Saul.  And it ends with Saul's sad suicide the same day everyone of his boys dies in battle.  (Cf. Eli, his sons and his daughter-in-law mother of Icabod).

Psalm 18 is a little braggy for my taste.  It is full of how awesome God is, compare to the end of Job, but also a lot about how pure David is, I guess also compare to Job.  But, it comes off differently when the speaker is a king.

Closing thought, Saul feel like Darth Vader to me.  Much more interesting from a literary point of view than goody two shoes David (so far). 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

1 Sam. 25-27; Ps. 17, 35, 54, 63

Our civil war seems to come to a cease fire when David has the opportunity to kill Saul in his sleep but chooses not to, them makes Saul aware of it.  David retires to Philistine territory where he and his 600 men conduct raids on Israel's enemies.

Before that we can David's marriage to Abigail.  She is the widow of a guy who refused to feed David's army and was generally a jerk.  The dude died of a heart attack, and David married his widow--like you do.

Oh yeah, and Samuel dies.

Psalm 17 - plea for help from God
Psalm 35 - how great is God for rescuing me; also he rescues the poor; also, Awake God and help me
Psalm 54 - a short little plea for help
Psalm 63 - "Oh God, you are my God," and "my soul thirsts for you."

The stories of David & Saul really are interesting to read.  In the encounter with Saul above, he again admits that he has sinned--something Saul does often--and starts referring to David as his son.  Seriously, abuser behavior.  Sort of interesting to read in an ancient text.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Psalms catch up

Psalm 7 is about seeking safety and wanting vengeance.

Psalm 27 speaks to me of confidence.  It also has an interesting theological note, I will live in the house of the lord all of my days.  Hmm, so not after he dies, but all of his days.

Psalm 31 is about anguish. It even has the psalmist say, "Into your hands, I commit my spirit."

Psalm 34 is about loyalty to God and includes "Taste and see that the Lord is good."

Psalm 52 is more hopeful.

Psalm 56 is also about loyal and include the phrase I walk in the light of the God.

Psalm 120 is a short little sad ditty.

Psalm 140-142 keep me safe from the enemies, don't let me sin, keep me safe from enemies.

Okay, now I'm still but only still one day behind in my reading.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter

So, I did read some today, I didn't finish the reading for the day.  Curiously enough because all of my time on Easter.  I've officially decided that God will grant me grace on this one.