Thoughts for Saturday 9th January 2021

Psalm 29 ; 1 Kings 2:1-4, 10-12; Luke 5:1-11

I’m always a bit suspicious whenever there’s a break in the readings we are being offered by the Revised Common Lectionary, and so this morning I’m immediately drawn to have a look at 1 Kings 2:5-9 as well. When, sure enough, we find a less than edifying passage of Scripture. It’s not that the RCL is censoring the Bible, but I do wish they could have just made the reading 1 Kings 2:1-12 instead.

The reticence seems to be that this passage discredits David. It is there in the Bible, though, and must be so for a reason, and does therefore need to be considered alongside all the more positive references we have to someone who is a key figure for us within our Christian faith.

One of the ‘reasons’ I think it’s there is that it serves to round out for us as a character someone who was never wholly a saint, but who always struggled to be as good as he could and have a right relationship with God. And so, although these are ‘death-bed’ instructions, and David can’t have been ignorant of the spiritual danger they might have placed him in because of that, he also wants to ensure a smooth succession. The problem is that Solomon is by no means the oldest of David’s sons.

Which always reminds me of nothing other than Mario Puzo’s novel, The Godfather. For, neither was Michael, Vito Corleone’s oldest son either! And so, here at the beginning of Solomon’s reign he’s being advised by his father: 1) to ‘get rid of’ Joab, who was David’s General and the leader of his army – but he was also someone who in chapter 1 we learn has been plotting against Solomon anyway, and 2) to ‘get rid of’ Shimei as well – which must have been an especially difficult thing for David to say, given that he’d previously solemnly sworn that Shimei’s life would be spared!

The question I have in my mind today: But what about the fifth commandment: Thou shalt not kill?

For, despite their Christian piety (the story begins and ends in Church with a wedding and a baptism respectively), we think of the two dons, Vito and Michael Corleone, not as saintly at all, but as criminal in what they did. Should it be any different for David and Solomon who, just as at his succession Michael has the dons of other mafia families in New York as well as a Las Vegas mobster, one of his own capos who has betrayed him, and even his own brother-in-law bumped off, so too does Solomon arrange the deaths of Joab and Shimei, as well as that of Adonijah, his half-brother and the oldest-surviving of David’s sons? What do you think?

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Let us pray (and this comes from the Anglican litanie of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer):

Good Lord deliver us.

    From all blindness of heart, from Pride, vainglory and Hypocrisie, from envy, hatred and malice, and all uncharitableness,

Good Lord deliver us.

    From fornication, and all other deadly sin, and from all the deceipts of the world, the Flesh, and the devill,

Good Lord deliver us.

    From lightning and tempest, from plague, pestilence, and famine, from battel, and murder, and from sudden death,

Good Lord deliver us.

    From all sedition, privy Conspiracy and Rebellion from all false Doctrine, heresie and schism, from hardnes of heart, and contempt of thy Word and Commandment,

Good Lord deliver us.

    By the mystery of thy holy Incarnation, by thy holy Nativity and Circumcision, by thy Baptism, Fasting and Temptation,

Good Lord deliver us.

    By thine Agonie, and bloody sweat, by thy Cross and Passion, by thy pretious Death and Buriall, by thy glorious Resurrection, and Ascention, and by the coming of the holy Ghost,

Good Lord deliver us.

    In all time of our Tribulation, in all time of our wealth, in the hour of death, and in the day of Judgement,

Good Lord deliver us.

Amen.

 


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