Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Self-Examination

This is a quick post on the Daily Office Old Testament track we've been on for a while. Today's lesson (1 Kings 1:38-2:4) is a continuation of a story about the transition of power from King David to King Solomon. I've been reading with renewed fascination as David struggles with his son Absalom, who led a rebellion against him. Absalom is killed in battle, and David's grief almost costs him his kingship. More recently in our readings, Adonijah gathered his supporters around him and named himself the new king. As the eldest son, he seemed a likely choice, but David had already promised that Solomon would succeed him. In yesterday's reading, David was informed about Adonijah's attempt to grab power, and he was forced to make a choice. Would he break his promise to Bathsheba and let Adonijah, who had rallied considerable support for his claim to the throne, stand as king, or would he risk another battle and confirm Solomon as his successor?

In today's reading, we see that the choice is made. David has Solomon anointed by Zadok the priest. The cry of celebration goes up, and, when Adonijah hears it, he knows that he is in trouble. All the guests at his coronation party trembled with fear and left him. Like a wrestler grabbing the ropes to get a brief respite from the attack of an adversary, Adonijah goes to the temple and grabs the horns of the altar--a gesture of anxious submission. Will Solomon kill him for his rivalry? What will come of them?

Tomorrow's lesson will show the answer, but we already know how it will end. It's been a rocky road thus far, and things were not likely to get better before they got worse.

Do you ever feel like you're stuck in a situation that you can't work your way out of? Maybe it's due to circumstances beyond your control. But likely  it's because of your own doing. Sometimes we have to stop and look at where we are and ask those tough questions. What did I do to get here? Was it beyond my control, or did I have something to do with it.

There's a reason confession precedes absolution. I don't think it's because God is waiting for us to say that we're sorry before he'll offer us love and forgiveness. God's unchangable nature is always to love and his property is always to have mercy. But we confess first so that the proclamation of forgiveness has meaning. In the service of public healing, which we use as our midweek service, the rubric states that a confession will be said before the anointing and prayers for healing are offered. (How about that for a rubric reading, Steve Pankey?) Why? Can healing not happen without confession? Sure it can. God can do anything. But will we be able to see it until we stop and stare deep within at our own shortcomings?

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