OT: 1 Kings 1:1-53
Whoa. We are in I Kings. I wasn't ready for that; the story just went so seamlessly from II Samuel.
Anyway, today's story managed to be crazy, tragic, and comical all at the same time. While David is still living, his son Adonijah decides that he would like to be king, and proceeds to throw a private, premature crowning party behind his father's back.
I am sensing a pattern with David's sons. Amnon, Absalom, Adonijah. It's not just that all start with A:). It's that David must not have been the world's #1 dad. The author of I Kings agrees with this assessment, nothing parenthetically that, "[Adonijah's] father had never interfered with him by asking, 'Why do you behave as you do?'" (6). So much about that statement is interesting. It is interesting that David never got involved in the process of raising his sons. And it is especially interesting that what the text seems to feel like his sons needed was someone to ask them, "Why?" I think it is a parent's job to prod and explore their children's hearts. So many books I've read on parenting emphasize that it is not about the child's outward behavior; it is about the motivations of their heart. Just training a child to behave externally does no long-term good. You must mold and shape their heart. Thus, many of my parenting books advise various ways to prod for a child's motivations when they act out. In short, they tell parents to ask, "Why did you do that?" That is exactly what Scripture is saying here. The text is implicitly critiquing David for not prodding and directing Adonijah's heart. Someone in that man's life (preferably his father) should have asked him, "Why," at some point.
But David never asked why. He never prodded and shaped his children's hearts. At least, he didn't do so with Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah. The book of Proverbs suggests that David did much, much better with Solomon.
Anyway, his parenting failures definitely came back to haunt him, and today's installment of chicken-roosting finds Adonijah trying to take the throne, both from David, and ultimately from Solomon. Bathsheba and Nathan conspire to reveal this unfortunate truth to David. Unlike in the Absalom incident, though, this time David is ready to act. He immediately has Solomon crowned king, thus preempting Adonijah's pursuit of the monarchy. I definitely think this country needs a better system on how to name the next king. Best I can tell, whoever shouts loud enough and long enough that they are king--and can garner popular support for that idea--gets the gig.
Needless to say, everyone who conspired behind David's back (including Joab--that TURNCOAT) is terrified, knowing that they backed the wrong guy. Adonijah, especially, is just sure Solomon is going to kill him, but instead, Solomon spares his life...for now.
Today, Peter and John face the Sanhedrin. Before I get into the particulars, I just have to say that the nature of their relationship, and specifically, of their rivalry, reminds me a little bit of Jefferson and Adams. According to the Synoptics and Acts (in other words, according to everything but John's Gospel), Peter is the #1 in this relationship. He is the leader; he is the spokesperson; he is the go-to guy. John's Gospel offers us an alternate picture, one that has John being the one to one-up Peter. In John's Gospel, John was the "disciple whom Jesus loved;" the one who asked Jesus who was going to betray him; the one who got Peter into the courtyard during Jesus' trial; the one who stayed at the cross; the first apostle to the tomb; the one who recognized Jesus on the beach. It reminds me of Adams' recollection of Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence. According to Adams, it was he who convinced Jefferson to do it. Adams could have easily been the one, but he allowed Jefferson to write it in view of the greater good. Again, that's the gospel according to Adams. Anyway, I digress. My Bible reading and biography reading were just running together today.
But ultimately Jefferson and Adams were friends and fellow countrymen. Together, they changed the world. And so were Peter and John. And together, they changed the world, too.
Okay, back to the text. In today's reading, the Sanhedrin arrests Peter and John, imprisons them overnight, and then questions them the next day. Peter gives a rousing response to their questions, prompting the Sanhedrin to note the courage of both men (13). To me, the courage of the early believers is definitely the most noteworthy thing here. I have talked about the divide b/t the OT and the NT, how in the OT, our heroes routinely begged for their lives. In the NT, the begging stopped. Peter and John did not grovel or whine before the Sanhedrin. They boldly spoke the truth. Even more impressive was the believers' prayer when Peter and John returned to them. Listen to these words: "Now Lord, consider their threats, and enable your sevants to speak your word with great boldness" (29). They didn't say, "Consider their threats and keep us safe from them." Or, "Consider their threats, and spare our lives, our precious lives." No. Their only concern was that they properly and powerfully represented the Gospel. They did not once, in that whole prayer, pray for safety.
I pray for safety all the time.
This passage makes me kind of rethink my mentality.
The difference b/t the OT mentality and the NT mentality is Jesus (13). I have Jesus. I should be like a NT Christian. The kingdom of God, and not my personal safety, should be my #1 concern.
Psalm 124: 1-8
Here is yet another psalm, upon which is based one of our praise songs.
An ode to pleasant words. Although I know that they can sometimes be deceiving or dangerous, I do understand what this proverb is saying. Words are so powerful, and kind and pleasant words can do so much good.