I'm not sure what to think about today's reading. I liked David's desire to build a house for God, but God's response confused me. God seemed a bit put off by the idea, though He did go on to say that Solomon would build a house for Him. I also just think it is weird to think of God having a house or a tent or any other residence. I feel that God chose this way of presenting Himself as a symbolic gesture to help the people understand His presence in a concrete way. After all, God did some big things outside of the ark. He helped the people in battle, and spoke to people through various means. It's not like they had the ark every time they saw God working or heard Him speak (right?), and so it's not like the ark or the tabernacle was where God always was. I feel like the people got that. Anyway, I just don't quite understand the OT God. (I think that's an understatement.)
For example, I also found His contrast b/t Solomon and Saul to be quite chilling: "But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you" (7:15). The idea of God taking His love away from someone is scary to me, though I can also see how that statement mainly refers to the idea that God ended Saul's reign. And I still don't understand statements like the one in 7:10, where God says, "And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning." See, I have two issues with that verse. One, I kind of remember God saying similar things about the people coming into the Promised Land. Two, I kind of remember that people do continue to disturb the Israelites. I guess you could argue that this verse is contingent on Israel's obedience, but I would have preferred that such caveats be clearly included.
I also thought it was chilling how David measured his enemies out and killed 2/3's of them. I guess that's a step up from killing all of them, but the way he did it just seemed...wrong.
NT: John 14:15-31
Well, I was trying not to overstep any bounds yesterday with my application of Jesus' words to us as Christians, but apparently, I need not have worried. Yesterday, I tentatively suggested that Jesus' words about being in the Father and the Father being in Him could also be applied to us, since we have the Spirit. I was a little hesitant in my comparison b/c, while we have God's Spirit, I wasn't sure I could say that we were in God the way He is in us. But Jesus says almost as much today: "On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you" (20). Thus, it is a reciprocal indwelling. And I'm really not sure what I just said.
On another note, I cite this passage often as the place where Jesus says three times that if we love Him, we will obey His commands (15, 21, 23). This idea resonates with me b/c when it comes down to it, I think in concrete, practical terms, and I value productivity. That's why I love I Cor. 4:20 ("For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power"). Words by themselves, without accompanying actions, just bother me. Though I was an English major, I am not an "art for art's sake" type of person. I prefer art to have a purpose, and the more concrete the purpose, the better. I love examples where words, whether in books or speeches, are a catalyst for direct action. I'm getting off track, but the point is, Jesus' words here are ones I can sink my teeth into. When it comes down to it, love is nothing--nothing!--apart from actions. I appreciate feelings and emotions as much as the next person, but they are ultimately meaningless if they don't lead to something real.
Lastly, though I love those three verses, they also really challenge me b/c they make me examine my life more closely. I mean, I think I love God. I feel like I love God. But do my actions say I love God? Do I love others not just in word or tongue, but with actions and in truth? Do I love in the radical way that Jesus commands? Do I need to take a step further in my actions? I revisit these questions often, with varying results.
"Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word" (36-37). What amazing verses. When I examine myself like I talked about in the NT section, I usually end up praying along these lines. Sometimes I need God's wisdom to know if I am pursuing something real and godly with my life, or if I am in reality just pursuing selfish gain and worthless things. I don't want to be distracted by worthless things. I want to do things that are real and that have eternal significance.
"The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor." I didn't realize how often the Bible says part A of this proverb. Out of curiosity, I looked it up on biblegateway, and I saw that we have already read those words three other times (Psalm 111:10, Prov. 1:7, Prov. 9:10).