Thoughts for Friday 18th September 2020

Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45; Exodus 16:1-21; 2 Corinthians 13:5-10 

 

Friday 18 September 

 

One of the problems with any lectionary is that, unless the cycle becomes protracted beyond practicability, quite a lot of the Bible is necessarily missing from it. One way round this is to use the lectionary in conjunction with some scheme such as, ‘The Bible in One Year’, which we’re all able to get as an app on our phones and tablets these days. But then, it’s also good to be able to find some time for secondary literature, such as commentaries, as well – and do a bit of housework occasionally! So, do please just be pleased with what you are able to do. 

 

It is helpful, I think, though, for us to know that if we do stick to the Revised Common Lectionary, then there are four Old Testament books that hardly ever appear at all; and that these are Leviticus, Numbers and 1st and 2nd Chronicles. It’s interesting today, therefore, that we get to read a little bit of 1 Chronicles by default so-to-speak. For, the opening few verses of Psalm 105 can also be found from 1 Chronicles 16:8 onwards. Do have a look, and you’ll see that what the Chronicler does (along with portions of Psalm 96, and Psalm 106) is to associate the beginning of Psalm 105 with that great moment in Jewish history when, with gifts for everyone, and great rejoicing, the Covenant Box was brought by David to Jerusalem. 

 

The reason why the lectionary doesn’t include much of either of the books of Chronicles, I think, is because of the secondary nature of the work, and the way it’s really just a ‘pick and mix’ of the Chronicler’s (and we do tend to think of ‘him’ – probably male – as a single person) favourite bits of the Bible, almost all of which can actually be found elsewhere, and in places such as the Psalms. The four books of Samuel and Kings being thought of as having far more ‘historical’ authenticity than Chronicles; it’ being very doubtful indeed that Psalm 105 had been written by time the Covenant Box was brought to Jerusalem. 

 

That’s not to say, though, that there isn’t a place for 1st and 2nd Chronicles. For, dating, most probably, from about the second half of the 4th century BC (as opposed to sometime probably in the middle of the 6th century BC for Samuel and Kings), it’s interesting, I think, to make comparisons, and to notice what the Chronicler chooses to include, leave out; and also to change, as ‘he’ has done here by turning Abraham and Jacob at verse 6 of the psalm into Jacob and Israel at I Chronicles 16:12-13 instead. 

 

Is this for stylistic reasons? we find ourselves asking (for Jacob and Israel are one and the same person, and maybe that makes for better – more aesthetically pleasing – poetical parallelism), or is there maybe something else going on? 

 

Let us pray: 

 

A Franciscan Benediction 

 

May God bless you with discomfort,
at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may live deep within your heart. 

 

May God bless you with anger,
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace. 

 

May God bless you with tears,
to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their
pain to joy. 

 

And may God bless you with enough foolishness,
to believe that you can make a difference in this world,
so that you can do what others claim cannot be done, 

 

Amen. 

 

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