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Monday, October 21, 2019

Daily Devotion for June 26, 2014

<i>Archa Noe</i> (Noah’s Ark) from the <i>Nuremberg Chronicle</i>, a paraphrased Bible, ca. 1493.
Archa Noe (Noah’s Ark) from the Nuremberg Chronicle, a paraphrased Bible, ca. 1493.



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.


The Love of Christ

Oh holy Christ, I thank you and love you for seeing who I really am. You know things about me that I don't even know myself, for you see with the clear eye of God, and not through the psychological tangle of human emotion and self-deception as others see me and I see myself. I most especially thank you, I fall upon my knees in gratitude, that you love me despite all of the sin and ugliness you see in me. You can see my beauty and heart, also, though, and love me as nobody else possibly could.

Like a father, you love me. Like a perfect brother, you love me. Knowing that you see me so clearly, and yet love me enough to suffer torture and death to save my soul, transcends my comprehension. I would be sick with shame, except that you have forbidden it, and by the power of God forgive my wrongdoing.

I give myself to you wholly, freely; every part of me blesses you. Take me to your bosom, holy Christ; let me live your love and reflect your light, that others may see a dim reflection of your magnificence in my lowly life, and that despite my many grievous faults, I might please you by doing better today, and every day. And this I vow: I will try, at least once today, to take a step closer to you, by the power of the Holy Spirit.


Prayer Not to Judge Others (by Jane Austen)

Heavenly Father, give me grace to endeavor after a truly Christian spirit to seek to attain that temper of forbearance and patience of which my blessed savior has set me the highest example, and which, while it prepares me for the spiritual happiness of the life to come, will secure the best enjoyment of what the world can give. Incline me, O God, to think humbly of myself, to be severe only in the examination of my own conduct, to consider my fellow creatures with kindness, and to judge of all they say and do with that charity that I would desire from them myself. In Christ's name I pray,



[The meaning of the temper of forbearance.]


And finally, may the grace of Christ our Savior, and the Father's boundless love, with the Holy Spirit's favor, rest upon me, and all of us, from above. Thus may we abide in union, with each other and the Lord, and possess, in sweet communion, joys which earth cannot afford.


Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.

><i>Bathsheba</i> by John William Godward, ca. 1905.
Bathsheba by John William Godward, ca. 1905.
Blue Latin Cross

1 Kings 2:13-25 (ESV)

The Story of Solomon (4)

Then Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. He said, “You know that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel fully expected me to reign. However, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother's, for it was his from the Lord. Please ask King Solomon — he will not refuse you — to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.” Bathsheba said, “Very well; I will speak for you to the king.”

So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. And the king rose to meet her and bowed down to her. Then he sat on his throne and had a seat brought for the king's mother, and she sat on his right. Then she said, “I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me.” And the king said to her, “Make your request, my mother, for I will not refuse you.” She said, “Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah your brother as his wife.”

King Solomon answered his mother, “And why do you ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom also, for he is my older brother, and on his side are Abiathar the priest and Joab the son of Zeruiah.”

Then King Solomon swore by the Lord, saying, “God do so to me and more also if this word does not cost Adonijah his life! Now therefore as the Lord lives, who has established me and placed me on the throne of David my father, and who has made me a house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death today.” So King Solomon sent Benaiah, and he struck him down, and he died.

Notes on the Scripture

What in the world is going on here? Did Solomon not promise that Adonijah might live? It seems here that he has done three serious wrongs in a single, rather Machiavellian, act: First, he promised to allow Adonijah to live and then killed him (almost immediately); second, he broke his promise to Bathsheba to do whatever she might ask; and third, he committed murder.

Susan Hayward as Bathsheba
Susan Hayward as Bathsheba

Our first problem in answering these questions is that we have run smack into the difficulties of Old Testament translation and interpretation. Often motivations are not fully given, details omitted, or meaning has become fuzzy (or been lost completely) over time. We might compare it to a photograph from the mid- to late-1800s. When you see such a photograph, the people look, well, weird. Their eyes bug out, they almost always look severe and stern and stiff as a board, their mouths are always closed, etc. There are reasons for this. They had to sit still for a long time without blinking, for example, which is why their eyes look buggy.

So it is, sometimes, trying to translate ancient Hebrew. Think of a written language as a technology, like photography. Ancient Hebrew was primitive. They had not discovered, for example, vowels; their vocabulary was tiny; their grammar, crude; their punctuation, next to non-existent. (See an example.) By the times of Christ, it was already an ancient dead language, used only for religious purposes. (Indeed, about 10% of the words in the Pentateuch are translated by guesswork, if at all.) Biblical Greek, although it was much advanced compared to Hebrew, was itself fairly rudimentary compared to modern languages. (See an example.)

That said, in this instance we do get good guidance from the text and we can make a very good conjecture at Solomon's justification for killing Adonijah. Israel was decidedly Oriental; the accepted policies regarding royal succession were closer to those of Persia (where a new king might slaughter dozens of brothers) than Germany or France. Western Europe was still barbaric in 1000 B.C.; but still, its nations did not have and would never develop royalty with the godlike supremacy of an Egyptian Pharaoh or Persian king. To marry the concubine of a former king was forbidden, an outrage; the only person who might do so was a successor king. Adonijah's request to be “given” the famous last concubine of David amounted to a resumption of his campaign to usurp the throne. It could only be seen as a preliminary to civil war.

Solomon's promise was: “If he will show himself a worthy man, not one of his hairs shall fall to the earth, but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.” (1 Kings 1:52) We are not making excuses for Solomon; he and David did terrible things. Here, though, he is justified in killing Adonijah. It is not a breach of his promise, and it is not murder, for Adonijah's attempt to unseat the anointed king of Yahweh is a sacrilege.

As to why he would tell Bathsheba he would grant her request, and then immediately refuse it, the best explanation was that the Hebrews were “men of their word” but only if they took a solemn vow. Solomon's words were not a promise, but a pleasantry and an indication of Bathsheba's high status, both officially and from personal affection. Notice that he bows to her and seats her to his right — very, very high honors from a king.

endless knot

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1 Peter 2:9: [Y]ou are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

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