BiND: Days 23-25
Hmm—I got a little behind in the midst of my wisdom-teeth experience. Sorry about that. I kept reading but not blogging since I was having trouble making complete sentences or sitting up straight and using both hands (crucial for typing and also for icing ones cheeks…). But I think I’m back, basically well!
We’ve covered pretty much the entire David and Solomon story line in just a few days—from the excitement of battles to the doldrums of idol worship, from the high places (bad) to the Temple (good), from the best in both (pardoning those who cursed them, asking for wisdom rather than power) to the worst (using their power for their own gain rather than for the glory of God and the good of the people). We’ve also covered several of the kings who came after Solomon, both in the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah (did you catch how there was only a united kingdom for two kings? Not at all a long time.). How glad are you right now that we don’t have the books of the Annals of the Kings of Israel/Judah? If we did, there might be a lot more stuff to read—instead we just get the highlights (or the lowlights, as the case seems to be.). Remember, most of this is Deuteronomic history, which means it’s based on a conditional understanding of covenant. “If you walk in my ways, then I will bless you.” With one small exception–in spite of all the disobedience, God keeps faith with David even through many generations. It doesn’t always look like it, and God certainly does get impatient more than once, but over and over the writers want us to remember David and his faithfulness, and God’s faithfulness to him. It will still be important to the gospel writers hundreds of years from now, just as it is important to these people writing for the Jews in exile.
Anyway, since you’ve already talked about this stuff, and read it several days ago, I am going to leave you with some pictures and a few random thoughts. I hope that’s okay…I’ll pick up the day-by-day blogging beginning with the Elijah stories that start on day 26.
They aren’t kidding when they say “high place”–they would choose the highest ground possible to build an altar, possibly because then the smoke of the burnt offering/incense wouldn’t have as far to go in order to get to heaven. (these two pictures, one from the ground and one from the top, are both from Petra, in Jordan.)
Interestingly, the first thing the “bad” kings seem to do is institute worship in these places rather than in the temple (see below). One suspects they are doing two things simultaneously: 1) hedging their bets RE which deity is really in control of their prosperity and peace; 2) making a political statement. The Temple, built by the line of David, isn’t really they only place for worship, it’s not really the place where God lives, and there’s no need to be traveling into that other kingdom to offer sacrifices–look, we have an altar right here! You see, traveling to Judah to sacrifice in Jerusalem would mean spending money there, it would mean supporting the Temple and its priests monetarily, and therefore supporting that king monetarily as well. No good. Hence the new places for sacrifice in the northern kingdom–at Dan and Bethel and maybe at Shechem too (which have all been places of sacrifice before God got a big house).
here we have two of Solomon’s building projects–to the left, the gates at the city Hazor. It’s a pretty big city, but all in ruins now. To the right is a view of the foundation/retaining wall on which the Temple was built. Straight ahead in the picture is the water tunnel that was talked about earlier in David’s story, and on the right is the wall itself (often called the Wailing Wall by Jews, who come here to pray). As you can see, the stones making up the wall are huge, as tall as most people. This is the only part of the Temple which remains–the retaining wall that made the hill of Mount Moriah flat enough to build on.
last but not least, this is supposedly David’s tomb. Whether he’s in there or not, who knows. But this is where Jews to this day come to pray at the shrine of their greatest king.
photo of David’s tomb and of wailing wall taken by jason of jasonclay.com. Other photos all taken by TCP.