This blog provides a meditation on the Epicopal daily readings along with aheadline from world news
1 Kings 1:5-31
5 Now Adonijah son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, ‘I will be king’; he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. 6His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, ‘Why have you done that?’ He was also a very handsome man, and he was born next after Absalom. 7He conferred with Joab son of Zeruiah and with the priest Abiathar, and they supported Adonijah. 8But the priest Zadok, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and the prophet Nathan, and Shimei, and Rei, and David’s own warriors did not side with Adonijah.
9 Adonijah sacrificed sheep, oxen, and fatted cattle by the stone Zoheleth, which is beside En-rogel, and he invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the royal officials of Judah, 10but he did not invite the prophet Nathan or Benaiah or the warriors or his brother Solomon.
11 Then Nathan said to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, ‘Have you not heard that Adonijah son of Haggith has become king and our lord David does not know it? 12Now therefore come, let me give you advice, so that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. 13Go in at once to King David, and say to him, “Did you not, my lord the king, swear to your servant, saying: Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne? Why then is Adonijah king?” 14Then while you are still there speaking with the king, I will come in after you and confirm your words.’
15 So Bathsheba went to the king in his room. The king was very old; Abishag the Shunammite was attending the king. 16Bathsheba bowed and did obeisance to the king, and the king said, ‘What do you wish?’ 17She said to him, ‘My lord, you swore to your servant by the Lord your God, saying: Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne. 18But now suddenly Adonijah has become king, though you, my lord the king, do not know it. 19He has sacrificed oxen, fatted cattle, and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the children of the king, the priest Abiathar, and Joab the commander of the army; but your servant Solomon he has not invited. 20But you, my lord the king—the eyes of all Israel are on you to tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. 21Otherwise it will come to pass, when my lord the king sleeps with his ancestors, that my son Solomon and I will be counted offenders.’
22 While she was still speaking with the king, the prophet Nathan came in. 23The king was told, ‘Here is the prophet Nathan.’ When he came in before the king, he did obeisance to the king, with his face to the ground. 24Nathan said, ‘My lord the king, have you said, “Adonijah shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne”? 25For today he has gone down and has sacrificed oxen, fatted cattle, and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the king’s children, Joab the commander of the army, and the priest Abiathar, who are now eating and drinking before him, and saying, “Long live King Adonijah!” 26But he did not invite me, your servant, and the priest Zadok, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and your servant Solomon. 27Has this thing been brought about by my lord the king and you have not let your servants know who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?’
28 King David answered, ‘Summon Bathsheba to me.’ So she came into the king’s presence, and stood before the king. 29The king swore, saying, ‘As the Lord lives, who has saved my life from every adversity, 30as I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel, “Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne in my place”, so will I do this day.’ 31Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground, and did obeisance to the king, and said, ‘May my lord King David live for ever!’
An ageing king with many wives whose offspring all want to succeed to the throne is a recipe for unrest. The narrator does not conceal the chaotic nature of the Davidic court. At one time David had favoured Solomon and the prophet Nathan is convinced that this is also the choice of the Lord-with the strange implication that although the Lord was displeased by David’s means of getting Bathsheba as his wife, the marriage was somehow part of his will.
The old lion has to be roused to action by the supporters of Solomon. Again the calm wisdom of Nathan achieves the desired result. The steadiness of Nathan in the midst of the volatilities of the court and the King represents the faithfulness of God, just as his cunning represents the wisdom of God.
14 ‘But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; 15someone on the housetop must not go down or enter the house to take anything away; 16someone in the field must not turn back to get a coat. 17Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! 18Pray that it may not be in winter. 19For in those days there will be suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, no, and never will be. 20And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut short those days. 21And if anyone says to you at that time, “Look! Here is the Messiah!” or “Look! There he is!”—do not believe it. 22False messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23But be alert; I have already told you everything.
24 ‘But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
25 and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
The desolating sacrilege is first of all the altar of Zeus placed in the Temple by Antiochus IV one of the Macedonian kings, but it stands in the minds of all subsequent generations of Jewish people as a prototype of desecration. Jesus might have used the expression-although he certainly didn’t say, “Let the reader understand”-but it’s more likely that Mark or the source Mark is using, has mingled the report of Jesus’ prophecy with knowledge of the destruction of the Temple in 70CE by the Romans, which would certainly have been seen as sacrilege and as the end of an age. There has been much discussion amongst scholars about the interpretation of the cosmic language of such prophecies. To what extent is it genuinely “eschatological”, that is, pointing to the end of this world as such, and to what extent political/theological, that is pointing to the end of the “powers” that rule this age of history. I incline to think
a) that Jesus did make prophecies of this kind;
b) that Mark saw a connection between the terms of the prophecies as he received them and the events of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus;
c) and also saw their fulfilment in the destruction of the Jerusalem temple and the universal mission of Christianity (the angels going out to gather the elect from the four winds)
In other words, whatever Jesus actually said, Mark’s version of his words tell us that Jesus’ death and resurrection are world changing events which defeat the powers that rule the world wherever they are proclaimed and lived.