Archive for the ‘Psalm 120’ Tag

Devotion for Wednesday After the Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Flowering Herbs

Above:  Flowering Herbs, 1597

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-71911

A Difficult Commandment

FEBRUARY 20, 2019

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The Collect:

Living God, in Christ you make all things new.

Transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,

and in the renewal of our lives make known your glory,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 24

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 22:11-17

Psalm 120

Luke 11:37-52

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Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips

and from the deceitful tongue.

What shall be done to you, and what more besides,

O you deceitful tongue!

–Psalm 120:2-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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A callous heart is at least as bad as a deceitful tongue.

YHWH’s criticism of King Jehoahaz (a.k.a. Shallum) of Judah (reigned 609 B.C.E.) was that he cared about himself, not justice.  King Josiah (reigned 640-609 B.C.E.), of whom biblical authors approved, had died in battle against the forces of Pharoah Neco II of Egypt.  Shallum/Jehoahaz succeeded his esteemed father as King of Judah and reigned for about three months before the Pharaoh deposed him.  Shallum/Jehoahaz died in captivity in Egypt.  For full details, read 2 Kings 23:30-35 and 2 Chronicles 36:1-4, O reader.

More than once in the canonical Gospels Jesus condemns Pharisees for obsessing over minor regulations while neglecting commandments requiring social justice.  There is some repetition from one synoptic Gospel to another due to duplication of material, but the theme repeats inside each of the Gospels.  That theme is as germane today as it was when Jesus walked on the planet.  Keeping certain commandments, although difficult, is easier than obeying others.  The proverbial low-hanging fruit is easy to reach, but keeping other commandments proves to be inconvenient at best and threatening to one’s socio-economic standing at worst.  This is one reason, for example, for many socially conservative Christians having emphasized individual holiness while doing little or nothing to oppose racism, slavery, sexism, child labor, and other social ills in the history of the United States.  Yes, many Christians worked to end these problems, but many others accepted them or even used the Bible to justify them.  Yet, as the Bible testifies again and again, God desires holiness and social justice.

YHWH and Jesus call for proper priorities.  Love your neighbor as you love yourself, they command us.  That is a difficult order.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HANSEN KINGO, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND “POET OF EASTERTIDE”

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/a-difficult-commandment/

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Devotion for Tuesday After the Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Cyrus II

Above:  Cyrus II

Image in the Public Domain

Doing the Right Thing

FEBRUARY 19, 2019

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The Collect:

Living God, in Christ you make all things new.

Transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,

and in the renewal of our lives make known your glory,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 24

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezra 1:1-11

Psalm 120

2 Corinthians 1:12-19

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Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips

and from the deceitful tongue.

–Psalm 120:2, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Some people seem to live to criticize.  They are not content to be happy, so they carp.  St. Paul the Apostle knew this well.  After a painful visit to the Corinthian church, he had planned to visit them again yet changed his mind not out of spite (as some in Corinth alleged), but out of consideration.  The reading from 2 Corinthians (actually part of the fourth letter to them) is an exercise in easing ruffled feathers.  That pericope is similar in tone to 2 Corinthians 10, the beginning of his third letter to the Corinthians.  (For your information, O reader, 1 Corinthians was St. Paul’s second letter to that church, and the first letter is lost.)

Regardless of all the motivations of King Cyrus II of the Persians and the Medes (reigned 559-530 B.C.E.), his decision to send Jewish exiles to their ancestral homeland was God’s work.  Cyrus II might have been a nice person, but he certainly had some political reasons.  So be it.  He was as benevolent a foreign ruler as Jews could expect at the time.

People do the right things for a variety of reasons.  Motivations count, of course, but how many beneficiaries care about the reasons?  The actions themselves count also.  The best combination of motivation and action remains doing the right thing for the proper reason.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HANSEN KINGO, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND “POET OF EASTERTIDE”

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/doing-the-right-thing-2/

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Devotion for Monday After the Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Zedekiah

Above:  Zedekiah

Image in the Public Domain

Four Kings

FEBRUARY 18, 2019

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The Collect:

Living God, in Christ you make all things new.

Transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,

and in the renewal of our lives make known your glory,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 24

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 24:18-25:21

Psalm 120

1 Corinthians 15:20-34

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Too long have I had to live

among the enemies of peace.

I am on the side of peace,

but when I speak of it, they are for war.

–Psalm 120:6-7, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Two of the three readings today include much doom.  Psalm 120 is overwhelmingly gloomy, as is the pericope from 2 Kings.  The reign of King Zedekiah (born Mattaniah) as the vassal King of Judah (reigned 597-586 B.C.E.) marked the bitter end of that kingdom.  Mattaniah (literally “gift of YHWH”) did not even get to keep his name, for his political master was Nebuchadnezzar II (reigned 605-562 B.C.E.) of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire.  So Mattaniah became Zedekiah (literally “YHWH is righteousness”).  The regnal name indicated the semblance of respect for Jewish traditions while simultaneously reminding the monarch that he was a vassal.

St. Paul the Apostle understood the death and resurrection of Jesus to have been literal events.  The Apostle also used them as spiritual metaphors, such as dying to sin and rising to new life in Christ.  Jesus will reign, we read, but only until he has conquered all enemies, the last of which is death, which he is in the process of conquering.  At the end Jesus will become subject to God the Father (YHWH).

Trinitarian theology developed over centuries, and St. Paul wrote near the beginning of that process.  His epistles do not stand up well to strict scrutiny according to the conclusions of the Council of Nicaea (325).  Neither do writings of other Ante-Nicene Church Fathers.  I refuse to judge them according to an ex post facto standard.

As for St. Paul’s christology, I refer to William F. Orr and James Arthur Walther, authors of The Anchor Bible volume on 1 Corinthians (1976):

Paul has not developed a trinitarian doctrine, but his christology is nonetheless a remarkable achievement.  overwhelming as is the work of salvation in the resurrection, it must be seen within the context of the purpose of the creator God.  Paul meticulously maintains his Jewish monotheistic tradition:  therefore the son himself is finally subjected, a statement that must be read, not from the perspective of a subordinationalist christology, but from Paul’s position, which is determined to set forth God as the all in all.

–Page 334

There were four kings.  Zedekiah was subject to Nebuchadnezzar II.  Sorting out the question of the subjection of Jesus to YHWH entails cutting through filters such as subsequent Trinitarian theology.  St. Paul was correct in asserting the supremacy of God, for, in the original scheme of things, YHWH was supposed to be the only King of Israel anyway.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HANSEN KINGO, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND “POET OF EASTERTIDE”

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/four-kings/

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