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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

2 Samuel 16-18

The call backs are interesting in this selection.  First, you have the servant of Mephibosheth come out to help David, and he ends up with Mephibosheth's inheritance it seems.  2 Sam 16:4.  Then we are reminded that not all of Saul's family is necessarily happy with the new king. 2 Sam 16:5-14.

The main event, is the fall of Absalom.  But before he falls, he takes the follow advice to establish himself as leader in Jerusalem. 
Ahithophel answered, “Sleep with your father’s concubines whom he left to take care of the palace. Then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself obnoxious to your father, and the hands of everyone with you will be more resolute.” So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.

Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God. That was how both David and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice.

So, we have the systematic, public rape of women as a mechanism of establishing dominance over a people. Such a gruesome, matter of fact telling of this. 

Absalom gets his in the end.  His gorgeous hair gets tangled in an oak tree and he is left hanging there as his mule moved on.  While some of the men are scared to kill the prince, Joab is not.  He and his armor bearers take care of that shit.  Although, David is very sad for the loss of his son.

For the record, Absalom's stories reminds me of Gilead's son, identified as Abimelek, who kills all of Gilead's children--his siblings--to take power. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Psalms 3-4, 12-13, 28, 55

Psalms 3 & 4 are anxious.  They speak of a Lord Deliverer, but suggest a current state of unease.  How long will people turn my glory (faith in YHWH) into shame (foolishness? naïveté?)  It is a familiar feeling

Psalm 12 is similar but more of a collective angst.  No one believes anymore, type of thing.  They elected Donald Trump. The psalmist puts into the voice of God, "Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise."  Again, indicated that some rising is called for.  The angst in Psalm 13 is more personal.  "How long must I wrestle with my thoughts."

Psalm 28 talks about personal experience with God, but then celebrates God's relationship with God's people.

Psalm 55 takes a different tone, IMHO.  It starts off, "Listen to my prayer, God."  Feeling more like a command than a request.  Then it lists how God always sides with the righteous, then invites God to kill the psalmist's enemies. 

Each of these are emotional.  Even the last one seems more about feelings than theology.  I try to use them as a guide into the meditations of ancient people and as a way to find some communion with their innermost thoughts.

Monday, May 15, 2017

2 Samuel 13-15

So, this is some serious Game of Thrones shit now.  We've go incestuous rape, with the semi-justified fratricide.  Then fleeing of the murderer, then return of the murderer, then a revolt and a fleeing of the king.  In the middle, we have another allegory told to David.  This time by a wise woman posing as a widow (commissioned by David's CINC to do it, btw) rather than a prophet.  The point is to make him realize he should invite the murderer back.  Which he does, which leads to the revolt.  P.S. in
describing how hot the murderer is we have this:
In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him. Whenever he cut the hair of his head—he used to cut his hair once a year because it became too heavy for him—he would weigh it, and its weight was two hundred shekels by the royal standard.

2 Sam. 14:25-26.  Heavy hair is hot.

Also, the amount of rape in the Bible should be plenty of evidence to polite society of how common violence against women is.  Presumably, the Bible doesn't advocate for it, but the fact that you can't tell the story with out it tells you how awful the world is in general.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Psalms 32, 51, 86, 122

To some extent, these psalms each had a theme of forgiveness.  I am slow to take forgiveness to mean forgiveness of personal sin because I understand the thought would have been much more focused on collective sin.  And, while collective sin consists of the actions of individuals, the collective nature is the focal point.

I'm not sure what to do with David and Bathsheba. In psalm 86, attributed to David, we have "You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.  Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy."  Ps. 86:5-6.  Is David asking for personal forgiveness as he does in the story once Nathan warns him of God's anger?  It sure seems like it.  But what does it mean when a Sovereign asks for personal forgiveness?

Interesting note: My little brain gets so excited when I come across a Spanish phrase that I recognize immediately.  That is doubly true in the psalms.  So I was very pleased to read, "Crea en mí, oh Dios, un corazón limpio."  Create in me, oh God, a clean heart.  When is a hymn, so, you know . . .