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Friday, June 02, 2017

2 Chronicles 1; Psalm 72

Second Chronicles begins with a story extremely similar to First Kings chapter 3.  Although many of the phrases are identical, the over language is not word for word as it has been in other sections.  The gist of it remains, Solomon chose wisdom rather than riches, power or long life.  Thus, YHWH granted him all of these.

That's a pretty important story. 

Also, why isn't Solomon a greater king than David? 

Psalm 72 seems like a coronation song for Solomon.  It even mentioned Lebanon & Sheba.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

1 Kings 3-4

Many greatest hits in this reading.  Solomon asks for wisdom, rather than long life or riches; so, God gives him all of it.  The split the baby story is here.  And the general international fame of Solomon's wisdom is in this story. 

Some quick things I noticed
  • in granting Solomon wisdom, God appears in a dream
  • the women fighting over the baby were prostitutes
  • "everyone under their own vine and under their own fig tree" appears to be the Hebrew equivalent of a chicken in every pot.
  • And, Solomon presided over the Big Promised Land
"And Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. These countries brought tribute and were Solomon’s subjects all his life."  1 Kings 4:21.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Psalm 119

Over 2300 words (thank you Biblegateway.com & Microsoft Word word count feature) of praise for the law.  This psalm has two components.  The law is amazing and anyone who follows it is blessed, and the law is amazing and anyone who doesn't follow it sucks. 

This psalm also seems remarkably adaptable to Christian purposes.  It even starts off with a "Blessed are . . ." It also talks frequently about God's salvation.  It gets at least one hymn, 'thy word is a lamp unto my feet.'  It uses the way or the path as a metaphor for living.  And it says, over and over, that God's law or decrees or commandments is the greatest blessing we have.

There is a smidge about the evildoers and how much the psalmist hates them, but loves the law.  But this is a relatively small portion of the psalm. 

I'm not moved.

I don't know if it is a reaction to the notion that adherence to a set of practices can save you. Honestly, I think there is something to that.  True, you can mindlessly follow the law and still live a meaningless life, but the psalmist doesn't call for that.  The psalmist calls for the law to be written on your heart. 

I don't know if it is a reaction to the claim of good things happening to good people.  The psalmist doesn't deny that los impios will set traps for him.  Nonetheless, he claims, God will save him.  God doesn't always save us from traps.

Perhaps it is a reaction to the purported infallibility of God's decrees when I'm reading the Bible and finding many ideas that compete with each other.  Competing ideas are not a problem for me; in fact, if I was to write a 2300 word essay praising inanimate objects, it might be about competing ideas.  But is seems weird to call them infallible and eternal.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

1 Kings 1-2; Psalms 37, 71, 94

So, the first two chapters of 1 Kings are straight out of game of thrones.  Old dude King David laying in a bed with a young girl to keep him warm, although they don't have sex.  Mkay.  A contested succession, although David settles it before he dies.  At the behest of Solomon's mother.  From rape victim to Lady Macbeth for Bathsheba.  Then, full Godfather style, Solomon goes about killing his rivals and unifying his power.

Chronicles is a much sanitized version.  Recall that Bathsheba is not in the book of Chronicles.  Interesting. 

It is hard to see the presence of God in these intrigues. A realm of shifting loyalties and long simmering revenge doesn't feel like a place in which God's presence can easily be felt.

So, we turn to the Psalms.  Frist 37 is quite a long psalm, and it is all about how God blesses the righteous and punishes los malvados.  "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing."  Ps. 37:25-26.  So, I think the psalmist needs to get out more, because I am aware of righteous who have been forsaken.  See, e.g., Job, Christ on the Cross, not to mention the folks at I-HELP and Paz de Cristo.

Psalm 71 runs the same way and then psalm 94 gives a hint that it could be a reference to the events from Kings of a usurper.  "Can a corrupt throne be allied with you- a throne that brings on misery by its decrees?"  Ps. 94:20.  Although, seems like this could refer to all kinds of evildoers.

We have an evil king in America today.  As my reading takes me through the stories of evil kings in Israel & Judah, I wonder what guidance I can find.  The Lord is my Rock and my Redeemer.  Is that personal advice, or national policy advice?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

Here is my post titled Memorial Day 2008.  In addition to remembering a fallen soldier from my hometown, who I did not know, I wrote the following.

Another fallen veteran I "remembered" today is Samuel Evans Ottenbacher. He was an Aviation Radionman Third Class, USNR, and died in November 1942. He lived at 120 S. Emerson, Indianapolis; my grandmother lived at 120 S. Bancroft. He was a dear friend of hers, and my dad, and therefore me, and therefore my son, have the middle name Evans in honor of him. Dad was born in 1948. My grandmother ... died this year.

What is striking is that Dad died five days after I wrote the post.  I came across it because I wasn't sure if I had over posted about him on Memorial Day, since he died as a direct result of his service in Vietnam.  It seems like there is more to say.

Dad had no "good" stories from Vietnam.  He told about the woman, who he called the mama-san, that cleaned their living quarters would shell the base at night.  He talked about a "hot shot" from the recently disbanded blue berets refusing to respond to a mortar attack, and Dad had to force him to respond.  He reported that he drank a bottle of Crown Royale a day.  He described the horrific image of children begging and child prostitution. 

I recall his flashback when we went to Nogales once.  It was intense.  He was not treated well when he returned how, but he also really hated the over-the-top, overcompensation starting in the 1980's. 

So, it's a tough background.  It's made more tough by the fact while there he was exposed to Agent Orange--after it's use was allegedly discontinued.  So when he died a couple months shy of his 60th birthday I did recognize that his service was something worthy of honor.  But of course, this makes me all the more angry to think that his sacrifice was squandered; that it was in support of ego and image than truly for the sake of liberty. 

Psalms 111-118

Psalm 111 - the glory of the Lord is everlasting
Psalm 112 - the glory of the Lord strikes fear in evil hearts
Psalm 113 - YHWH is lord of all nations; he makes the motherless child feel as good as one with children.
Psalm 114 - YHWH is so powerful natural forces like rivers, seas and mountain flee from YHWH
Psalm 115 - YHWH is way better than stupid idols
Psalm 116 - I cried out and God helped me
Psalm 117 - All nations praise YHWH
Psalm 118 - God endures forever; particular within the house of Aaron.

What interested me, is that both Psalm 115 and 118 reference the "House of Aaron."  Biblegateway.com teaches me that it is a phrase also used in Psalm 135.  And of course, we know that Aaron sneaks into the list of houses of Israel at the end of First Chronicles 27:6-22. 

NIB Commentaries aren't particularly interested in this.  Google searching is difficult because the phrase refers to a movement associated with the Church of the Latter Day Saints.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

1 Chronicles 26-29; Psalm 127 (end 1 Chronicles)

Psalm 127 is a special passage to some.  It contains within it Solomon's (at least that's the annotation in my NIV Bible) that children are like arrows in a warrior's quiver and you are blessed to have a Quiverfull of them.  This is the key passage for the Quiverfull MovementSee also Idiocracy.

We get into more lists, beginning with the gatekeepers.  It is interesting the idea that not only does the leader's role pass down via lineage, but so do gatekeepers and worship leaders (a millers and smiths and bakers etc. I suppose)

Finally, we end 1 Chronicles with a description of how to build the temple.  Not a detailed description.  Just the fact that David passed things off to Solomon.  And, even though God has chosen Solomon, he can't do it alone.  Everyone was happy to bring, gold, silver, iron, lots of wood, etc. to build the Temple.  A successful capital campaign kick off.

David dies having reigned a long time, succeeded by his son.