06 June 2010

Jun 6

Reference links:
Old Testament

New book today! Like with 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings are actually one literary work divided into two parts. Wikipedia says,
The authorship, or rather compilation, of these books is uncertain. The date of its composition was perhaps some time between 561 BCE, the date of the last chapter ... traditionally Jeremiah was credited the author of the books of Kings. 
However, the book(s) plainly acknowledge several source texts in several places, and it is hence self evidently a compilation from earlier sources rather than an original work. A superficial examination of the Books of Kings makes clear the fact that they are a compilation and not an original composition. ... As well as the text's own admission, the idea of the text being composed from multiple earlier sources is also supported by textual criticism.
The subject of the book is the reigns of a bunch of kings after David. Apparently, the book also has a number of textual peculiarities which show that the book was not composed as a careful and deliberate history.

Today we read about David's old age and decline.
King David was now very old, and no matter how many blankets covered him, he could not keep warm. So his advisers told him, “Let us find a young virgin to wait on you and look after you, my lord. She will lie in your arms and keep you warm.”
So they searched throughout the land of Israel for a beautiful girl, and they found Abishag from Shunem and brought her to the king. The girl was very beautiful, and she looked after the king and took care of him. But the king had no sexual relations with her.
I think this passage really shows how much David's health had declined. David, the man with many wives and concubines, has a lovely young virgin to keep him warm and does not have sexual relations with her!

Despite David's decline, he had not yet named a successor. His son Adonijah won the support of David's military leader Joab and the priest Abiathar. However, others did not support Adonijah.

I find the prophet Nathan's behavior here interesting. The text never says that Adonijah had declared himself king. It says that he boasted that he would make himself king and that he was working to win support, but it does not say that he had actually declared himself king yet.

Nathan, however, told Bathsheba (and later David) that Adonijah had declared himself to be king. Nathan also tells Bathsheba to
Go at once to King David and say to him, ‘My lord the king, didn’t you make a vow and say to me, “Your son Solomon will surely be the next king and will sit on my throne”? Why then has Adonijah become king?’
However, we never saw such a vow, that I remember. Were Nathan and Bathsheba trying to take advantage of David's old age and likely failing memory to get Solomon on the throne?

Whether or not the vow ever happened (and realistically, why would David have promised that Solomon would be king when he had so many older sons?), David believed that it had and made Solomon king.

I think Adonijah's behavior further supports the assessment that while he was willing to make himself king in the absence of any move by David, he was not intentionally setting out to rebel.
Adonijah was afraid of Solomon, so he rushed to the sacred tent and grabbed onto the horns of the altar. Word soon reached Solomon that Adonijah had seized the horns of the altar in fear, and that he was pleading, “Let King Solomon swear today that he will not kill me!”
To me, this does not read like the actions of a many intentionally working to defy the wishes of his father. It reads like a man who, perhaps mistakenly, was trying to take advantage of a confusing political situation.

New Testament

The theme of today's reading is that Peter and John are hated by the authorities and they don't care.

Peter and John claimed that they were able to heal the man through the name of Jesus and because the man was healed, many came to believe. However, this brings up an interesting point. Just because they were able to heal the man, should we necessarily believe that they were able to heal for the reason that they claimed? Certainly, if they were able to consistently heal with Jesus' name and others were not able to heal in other ways, that might lend weight to their case, but a single incident (giving the very generous assumption that it actually happened), is interesting but not compelling.

We also get another passage reiterating the property sharing practiced by the early community of believers.
All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.
Psalms and Proverbs

Today's proverb is nice:
Kind words are like honey—
sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.