Year 4 - Week 41 (June 9 – 15, 2024)

Day 1 (Monday)

3 Kingdoms 1:1-40 (The Struggle for the Succession)

Last time, we saw all the evils that came upon King David in the aftermath of his great sin of adultery and murder. This time, we will begin the story of the end of his life, and will see the struggle for the succession to the kingdom that has been established for him. This is also the beginning of the third book of Kingdoms, or what is usually called 1 Kings in many Bibles published in the United States.

1 Kings (3 Kingdoms)

The Struggle for the Succession

1 King David was old and advanced in years; and although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm. 2 So his servants said to him, “Let a young virgin be sought for my lord the king, and let her wait on the king, and be his attendant; let her lie in your bosom, so that my lord the king may be warm.” 3 So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. 4 The girl was very beautiful. She became the king’s attendant and served him, but the king did not know her sexually.

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. 6 His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, “Why have you done thus and so?” He was also a very handsome man, and he was born next after Absalom. 7 He conferred with Joab son of Zeruiah and with the priest Abiathar, and they supported Adonijah. 8 But 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, 10 but 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? 12 Now therefore come, let me give you advice, so that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. 13 Go 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?’ 14 Then 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. 16 Bathsheba bowed and did obeisance to the king, and the king said, “What do you wish?” 17 She 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. 18 But now suddenly Adonijah has become king, though you, my lord the king, do not know it.”

19 “He 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. 20 But 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. 21 Otherwise 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. 23 The 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. 24 Nathan said, “My lord the king, have you said, ‘Adonijah shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne’? 25 For 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!’ 26 But he did not invite me, your servant, and the priest Zadok, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and your servant Solomon. 27 Has 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?”

The Accession of Solomon

28 King David answered, “Summon Bathsheba to me.” So she came into the king’s presence, and stood before the king. 29 The king swore, saying, “As the Lord lives, who has saved my life from every adversity, 30 as 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.” 31 Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground, and did obeisance to the king, and said, “May my lord King David live forever!”

32 King David said, “Summon to me the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.” When they came before the king, 33 the king said to them, “Take with you the servants of your lord, and have my son Solomon ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon. 34 There let the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan anoint him king over Israel; then blow the trumpet, and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ 35 You shall go up following him. Let him enter and sit on my throne; he shall be king in my place; for I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah.” 36 Benaiah son of Jehoiada answered the king, “Amen! May the Lord, the God of my lord the king, so ordain. 37 As the Lord has been with my lord the king, so may he be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David.”

38 So the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and led him to Gihon. 39 There the priest Zadok took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 And all the people went up following him, playing on pipes and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth quaked at their noise.

Discussion questions:

 

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out how strange it is, that Solomon, who would be much younger than his brothers, even Adonijah, should be David’s heir, at least in terms of the basic principles that generally prevail, that the eldest son of a king should succeed him. Adonijah was David’s fourth son, according to 2 Kingdoms 3, and was born while David was ruling only Judah, in Hebron. That makes Adonijah at least 33 years old here, since David ruled in Jerusalem over all Israel for 33 years before he died. We don’t know when Solomon was born, but he must be substantially younger. The difference, perhaps, is that Solomon was born after David’s great sin and repentance, and perhaps David chooses him because he recognizes how badly his family has gone wrong through his early neglect and mistakes. Solomon is very far from perfect, but…he is not as bad as Amnon, Absalom, or Adonijah.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 2 (Wednesday)

Irenaeus - Against Heresies 1 - Book 2 Excerpts 2

Last time we began with our summer reading of one of the Church Fathers, St. Irenaeus of Lyons. His work “Against Heresies” is directed against the Gnostic heresies that were troubling the Church in his time (the mid-2nd century), but it contains a great deal of the theology of the Church, summed up in a manner that is remarkably relevant and recognizable, even to us in the 21st century. We are drawing these selections from a recent condensation of this very substantial work by an academic named James Payton; anyone who would like to purchase this book can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Irenaeus-Christian-Faith-Condensation-Heresies/dp/1608996247/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

St. Irenaeus of Lyons - Against Heresies - Book 2 (excerpts 2)

… Our Lord Jesus Christ underwent a genuine passion, not just the appearance of one. Even so, he was in no danger of being destroyed; instead, by his own power he established fallen humanity and called it anew to incorruption.… The Lord suffered so that he might bring those who have wandered from the Father back to knowledge and communion with him.… Having suffered, the Lord granted us salvation, bestowing on us the knowledge of the Father.… By his passion our Lord also destroyed death, dispersed error, put an end to corruption, and destroyed ignorance, while he manifested life, revealed truth, and granted the gift of incorruption.… (2:20,3)

… He did not appear as one thing while being something else, as those heretics teach who say he only seemed to be human: he manifested himself for what he was. As a master, he possessed the age of a master. He did not despise or evade any human condition. He did not set aside in his own case the order he had appointed for the human race; rather, he sanctified every stage of human development by participating in it himself. For he came to save all in himself, all those who are born again to God through him—infants, toddlers, young children, youths, and the mature.

He passed through every stage, becoming an infant for infants, thus sanctifying infants; a child for children, thus sanctifying those of this age, and serving them as an example of piety, righteousness, and submission; a young person for young people, serving as an example to youths and thus sanctifying them for the Lord; so also he was a mature person for the mature. In this way, he was a perfect master for all, not merely in setting forth the truth, but also in being mature, sanctifying at the same time those who are mature, as well, and becoming an example for them also. Then, finally, he came on to death itself, so that he would be “the first-born from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything” [Col 1:18], the author of life [Acts 3:15], existing before all and going before all. (2:22,4)

The right way to approach knowledge is not to try to rise above God in your thoughts: he cannot be surpassed. Do not try to find one greater than the creator; that would be futile. The one who made you cannot be contained within limits. Even if you could measure the cosmos and traverse the entire creation, and carefully examined it in all its depth and height and length, you would still not be able to come up with one superior to the Father. You will never be able to comprehend him.… (2:25,4)

It is better and more beneficial to be classed with the simple and illiterate, but to be near God in love, than to imagine yourself learned and insightful but be numbered with those who blaspheme him, conjuring up a superior god to be the father. This is why Paul declared, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” [1 Cor 8:1]. By this he did not disparage genuine knowledge of God, for then he would have been condemning himself. But he knew that some people, inflated with their pseudo-knowledge, fall away from the love of God, imagining themselves to be perfect.…

It is better to have no knowledge whatever of even one reason why a single thing in creation has been made, but to believe in God and continue in his love, than it would be to be puffed up through knowledge of the kind offered by the heretics and so fall away from that love which gives life to humanity. It is better to search after no other knowledge than that of Jesus Christ the Son of God, who was crucified for us, than to fall into impiety by subtle questions and hair-splitting expressions. (2:26,1)

… There is one only God, the creator—who is above every principality and power and dominion and virtue. He is Father, he is God, the founder, the maker, the creator who made those things by himself (that is, through his Word and his Wisdom)—heaven and earth, the seas, and everything in them. He is just; he is good; he it was who formed humanity, who planted paradise, who made the world, who sent the flood, who saved Noah. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of the living [Mark 12:26, 27]. He it is whom the law proclaims, whom the prophets preach, whom Christ reveals, whom the apostles make known to us, and in whom the Church believes.

He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through his Word, who is his Son, he is revealed and manifested to all to whom he is revealed—for only those know him to whom the Son has revealed him. But the Son, eternally co-existing with the Father from of old, indeed, from the beginning, always reveals the Father to angels, archangels, powers, virtues, and all those to whom he wills that God should be revealed. (2:30,9)

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out that Irenaeus’ comments about how it would be better to have no knowledge, but to be near God, is a direct assault on the very core point of Gnosticism, which is itself named for the Greek word for knowledge. The entire temptation of the Gnostic movement is the idea that there is special, secret knowledge about high and hidden things which can be learned, and then used, in order to gain power and position. This temptation, however, is antithetical to the right relationship with God to which we are called, as well as in direct conflict with the truths that our Lord Jesus Christ has revealed to us.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 3 (Friday)

John 11:38-57 (Jesus Raises Lazarus, Plot to Kill Jesus)

Last time we saw Jesus approaching the tomb of Lazarus, and meeting both of the dead man’s sisters. To Martha, the Lord proclaimed Himself as not just a prophet or holy man to whom God would listen if he prayed, but as Himself the Resurrection and the Life, Almighty God Himself. To Mary, the Lord showed His humanity, in weeping for the death of Lazarus and the grief that his death had brought to all who loved him. But this time, the Lord will reach the tomb, and we know what He will do there.

Jesus Raises Lazarus to Life

38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone.

And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

The Plot to Kill Jesus

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, “What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.”

49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” 51 He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. 53 So from that day on they planned to put him to death.

54 Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.

55 Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

Discussion questions:

 

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out two things. First, that Jesus prays to the Father, audibly, not asking Him to raise Lazarus, but as He says, so that the crowd may know that the Father has sent Him, and that He does this work as the Messiah sent from the Father, and not apart from Him. Then, very clearly, He Himself commands Lazarus to come out. So we see at the same time the Lord’s oneness with the Father, and at the same time that He Himself is God, with power and authority over even the dead. Second, we should note that the determination of the council to kill Him comes as a direct response to this miracle. It is not that they disbelieve the miracle, but that they are concerned about what will happen to the peace and stability that they enjoy.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?