First reading for the coming Sunday

Israel has trouble with her kings.

Some are clearly displeasing to the Lord, unfaithful to the covenant, and in consequence, and according to the books of Samuel and the Kings, bring disaster on Israel.

The tradition has a soft spot for David and Solomon, kings at the time of Israel greatest temporal spread and power.

However Israel also at least half recognises that her true king is the Lord. Earthly kings are granted only after Israel demanded to be a nation among nations, (1 Samuel 8) with a king – and thus entering into a way of life that is at best in tension with her original covenantal call.

God makes covenant with David (a covenant precious to Christians, for Jesus is recognised as Son of David and by virtue of that, king of Israel.)

But David and his son Solomon are not faithful to the covenant. Their unfaithfulness proves to be the seed of Israel’s further decline, the weeds that choke and frustrate the hoped for harvest, leading to the exile in Babylon, are sown there.

The reading that follows encourages to reflect on great promise, and God’s ability to bring a great harvest even from great disaster.

First reading for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time:

1 Kings 3:5,7-12

(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

3.5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.”

6 And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day.

7 And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. 9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”

10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.

13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. 14 And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: Solomon. Masonic Temple, Bath. (c) 2019, Allen Morris.

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