Saturday 09 July 2016

Bible Book:
2 Samuel

"And I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly ... and I will give you rest from all your enemies." (v.10)

2 Samuel 7:1-17 Saturday 9 July 2016

Psalm: Psalm 121


This story of the prophet Nathan instructing King David to builda 'house' or temple for God has been understood by many scholars asa piece of retrospective propaganda on behalf of the later KingSolomon (see verses 12-16, which predict the reign of Solomon). Infact it is not David but eventually Solomon who constructs theTemple.

Just as the creation of the monarchy was a significant shift inIsraelite history, so the plan to construct a temple for God'sdwelling was a radical change in the self-understanding of thetribes. "I have been moving about in a tent" with you, says God.The god of Moses was an itinerant god who accompanied the people intheir wanderings - the god who will dwell in a temple is a newconcept of God for a settled people. (Note that when John's Gospelis trying to explain the incarnation, John says that the Wordbecame flesh "and lived [pitched his tent] among us" - John1:14.)

The longings of a group of tribes to become properly settled in oneplace and defended from enemies is understandable. But theinterpretation of this passage over the years reached a time ofparticular poignancy in the 20th century after the terriblepersecution of the Jews under Hitler, when more than 6 million diedin the concentration camps. 

When the truth of the death camps emerged the longing of theJewish people to have their own place and to be no more afflictedby violence received greater international support, and this helpedto establish the modern state of Israel.

What is heartbreaking is that this place has been established andmaintained through the dispossession of another people, thePalestinians, and has never in fact enjoyed that longed for freedomfrom violence.

To Ponder

  • God's promise here to preserve God's own people from violencehas seldom come true, and in some periods of history the violencehas been unimaginable. What do you want to say to God aboutthis?
  • Do you think of God as being especially present in sacredplaces, or being with you 'on the move'? Why?
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