23 July 2010

Jul 23

Reference links:
Old Testament

The chronicler manages to justify Solomon's decision to build himself a glorious palace even though David had already built a palace. You see, the Ark had been in David's palace, therefore, Solomon's wife, a foreigner, could not live there. It sounds to me like yet another excuse.

We then read about the vast extent of Solomon's wealth and wisdom. I don't know if this is the same in detail as in Kings, but it is certainly the same in idea: Solomon is rich and wise and all around awesome.

However, there is a dark side to all of this, which does not come to light until after Solomon's death. After Solomon's son, Rehoboam, becomes king, the Jeroboam (who will later become king of the split kingdom of Israel) asks to have the load on the people lightened:
Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.
Notice that it was Solomon who was imposing harsh labor demands and heavy taxes. All of the wondrous and magnificent buildings were the result of abusing the people. The chronicler seems to want to smooth over Solomon's role in this, but he clearly bears the bulk of the blame for the state of things.

Today's passage also lends some support to Paul's implication that the Lord does not make his promises in good faith. Referring to Rehoboam's refusal to lighten the load on the people we read,
So the king paid no attention to the people. This turn of events was the will of God, for it fulfilled the Lord’s message to Jeroboam son of Nebat through the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh.
So it was God's will that Israel would start falling apart after only one generation of God's promise being kept? Yeah, a descendant of David will be on the throne for quite awhile yet, but the spirit of the original promise has already been broken.

Now, a justification of this could have been pulled off if the chronicler had not tried so hard to minimize Solomon's blame in the oppression of the people, but he didn't, and so we are left with some rather problematic implications for the nature of God.

New Testament

Today's reading pretty much mirrors yesterday, this time talking about how the Holy Spirit inside of one produces a force for good.

I still do not agree with the portrayal of human nature as a struggle between abstract forces of good and evil. For if evil comes from a sinful nature that is not truly part of self and good comes from the influence of the Holy Spirit, what is left for self? What is left when you strip away all desires and attribute them to abstract forces?

Although maybe that's the point and Paul is trying to make almost Buddhist like point about how self can only be found in loss of self. I kind of doubt that's what he's getting at right here though.

Psalms and Proverbs
Children who mistreat their father or chase away their mother are an embarrassment and a public disgrace.
I know this proverb has a legitimate point, but my brain still decided that the best image to bring up for a child chasing away their mother was a toddler brandishing a stuffed animal as their mother runs away in terror. And that amused me.