Psalm 128; 1 Kings 11:26-12:24; John 16:5-16

Psalm 128: This psalm of happy domesticity celebrates the joys of a man and his family, who “walk in His ways” (1) The family eats because of “of the toil of your hands” and is happy. (2)  This simple life–and the food they eat–“is good for you.” (Perhaps the only line in the psalms that could be construed as giving nutritional advice as well.)

Two simple metaphors, both symbolizing fecundity, describe the the man’s family: His wife is like a fruitful vine because of course the occupation of the wife in society of that time was to bear children, hidden from public view “in the recesses of your house.” (3)

And the blessing of God was to sit with children around the dinner table–perhaps one of the most peaceful images since Psalm 23.  And all this comes back to one simple requirement: “Look, for it is thus / that the man is blessed who fears the LORD.” (4)

The psalm ends with a benediction “May the LORD bless you from Zion, /and may you see Jerusalem’s good all the days of your life,” (5) and a final blessing that gladdens my heart, perhaps the greatest blessing of domesticity in one’s old age, grandchildren: “And may you see children of your children.”

And in the final line, something we so fervently hope for even today: “Peace upon Israel!”

1 Kings 11:26-12:24: Jeroboam has had charge of forced laborers under Solomon and “was very able.” (11:27). He encounters the prophet The prophet Ahijah the Shilonite on the road who tells him that God is punishing the sins of Solomon by dividing the kingdom of Israel after Solomon dies. The prophet tells Jeroboam, “I will take the kingdom away from his son and give it to you—that is, the ten tribes.” (11:35).  As always, there is the covenantal command: “ If you will listen to all that I command you, walk in my ways, and do what is right in my sight by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you, and will build you an enduring house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.” (38).

Solomon hears and tries to kill Jeroboam in order to protect the dynasty for his son, Rehoboam. Solomon then dies after reigning for 40 years.

Rehoboam becomes king and Israel comes to him, promising loyalty if he will lighten their workload, “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke that he placed on us, and we will serve you.” (12:4) Rehoboam consults with Solomon’s older, wiser counselors, who advise him to do so. But then “he disregarded the advice the older men gave him” and consults with his younger buddies, “who had grown up with him and now attended him.” (11:8). They tell him to turn the screws harder in the scary but memorable phrase, “My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” (12:11)

Whereupon Israel rebels and Rehoboam is forced to flee to the safety of Jerusalem. And thus the ten northern tribes, which becomes “Israel,” break away. The united kingdom ruled over by Saul, David and Solomon is no more. Such is the price of Solomon’s sin and Rehoboam’s arrogance. Interesting how God carries out His plans through the actions of unwise men.  And of course, even today, the young are too often unwilling to listen to the counsel of older, more experienced men–the ugly fruits of which we see today in the highest reaches of political power.

John 16:5-16: Jesus promises the arrival of the Advocate (the ‘Helper’), who cannot come unless Jesus goes away. Upon the Holy Spirit’s arrival, Jesus promises, “he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.” (8) He then explains what he means by each of those three realities, their upshot being that there will be an entire new order in the world with brand new definitions of sin, righteousness, and judgement. I think Jesus is talking about the seismic shift from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant here.

In the next verses we encounter the Trinity, which although it has always existed is being revealed for the first time to human beings: “He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine.” (14,15). For me, Jesus’ words are complex and puzzling here. Perhaps it is because the concept and interrelationship of the Trinity is complex and puzzling. 

But at the end of this section, there is Jesus’ clearest promise yet of his resurrection:  “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.” All of the promises Jesus has made to his disciples and to us cannot be fulfilled until this seminal event occurs.


Speak Your Mind