June 24, 2021

It has always struck me as odd that the Book of Proverbs found its way into the biblical canon. I of course understand that every ancient Middle Eastern culture wrote proverbs, short, pithy sentences and phrases that purported to express significant truths about society and culture that could readily be repeated as goads for “right” behaviors or “correct” actions. All cultures contain such tidbits; they are the stuff of common beliefs, the kind of memorable bon mots that are heard... Read more

June 16, 2021

It is more than a pity, rather more an outrage, that this lovely and delightful series of poems from an unknown author and an unknown time, has long been known as “Song of Solomon.” The third king of Israel, born and dead in the 10th century BCE, was indeed famous for his vast harem, comprising “seven hundred princesses and three hundred concubines” (1 Kings 11:3); the sheer number of these women, among whom, we are told were “many foreign women”... Read more

June 15, 2021

The book of 1 Kings is an intriguing amalgam of various strands of tales concerning Solomon, third king of Israel, and his immediate heirs, whose gross misrule led to the division of the nation of Israel into northern and southern pieces. It begins with the tragic and frankly despicable end of David’s reign and life, involving his squalid requests for revenge against some of his old enemies, involving his son, Solomon, in the sordid murders that follow (1 Kings 1-2).... Read more

June 9, 2021

The text for this Sunday assigned by the Revised Common Lectionary is purportedly the end of the long tale of David’s rise and fall, from the heights of his glory to the depths of his sordidness, from his choice by Samuel as king to his sickening inclusion of his son, Solomon, in plots to murder old enemies. We have been looking at several scenes of that long story since Pentecost, and as usual, it has been a sobering exercise. To... Read more

June 7, 2021

The story of the rise and fall of David is a very long one, and the compilers of the lectionary had to make choices concerning which parts of the tale they would highlight. Between the foul actions of the king and his upbraiding by YHWH through the prophet Nathan (2 Sam.11-12), there lies the story of David’s son, Absalom, and his attempt to usurp his father’s throne. That painful narrative involves the portrayal of an arrogant and narcissistic boy, enamored... Read more

June 4, 2021

David imagines that he has gotten away with his appalling actions of 2 Sam.11. He has hidden his adultery with Bathsheba behind his arranged murder of her husband, Uriah, though it is difficult to think that either of these deeds could seriously be unknown by at least a few palace regulars, not to mention by several soldiers, witness to Uriah’s mysterious death at the walls of Amman. Nevertheless, both David and Bathsheba act as innocents, with the latter observing the... Read more

June 3, 2021

The story of David that we have been reading now comes to the place that offers by far the most memorable and the most deplorable narrative. 2 Sam.10 suggests that David’s long struggle to defeat his many enemies surrounding his expanding empire has been primarily successful, the penultimate foes, the Arameans, being forced to “make peace with Israel and become subject to them” (2 Sam.10:19). Only the Ammonites remain as a thorn in David’s side, and he is about to... Read more

June 2, 2021

2 Samuel 7 has long been seen by scholars as an interlude between the creation of the capitol city of Jerusalem, the setting of the Ark in the city, and the continuing strife that ensued between Israel and various enemies, leading up to the watershed events surrounding David’s adultery with Bathsheba and the arranged murder of her husband, Uriah. In this chapter we find language strikingly dissimilar from that of the narratives that precede and follow; it is preachy language,... Read more

May 31, 2021

After David’s capture of Jerusalem from the Jebusites, and his appropriation of the city as his new capitol city, he senses the need for a religious symbol with which he may further unite the disparate tribes of the previously scattered people of Israel. No better symbol may be found than the fabled Ark of the Covenant. The Ark has fallen out of the long story of the fall of Saul and the rise of David. As far as we can... Read more

May 28, 2021

It is always particularly painful when the 4th of July falls on a Sunday. Too many US American churches have enough difficulty remembering whom it is they have come to worship when they are confronted with American flags in the sanctuary. It has long been my contention that such flags have no place in any church, but I have suffered too many bruising debates on this subject over the years to pursue it once again in this essay. Suffice to... Read more

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