Synopsis 1Chron 11:7-19 12/20/2019
After defeating the Jebusites, King David took up residence in Jerusalem. For strategic reasons, he lived in a fortified portion of the city which eventually became known as the “City of David”.
So, David built up the fortified portion of the city. And Joab reinforced the rest of Jerusalem.
Even before he became king, David was supported by devoted followers. Among these were three men who were collectively known as “The Three”. Somehow related to the Three, was another group of distinguished and exceptionally loyal followers known as “The Thirty”.
King David was originally from Bethlehem. At one point during a prolonged conflict with the Philistines, David’s army was cut off from Bethlehem. In a moment of nostalgia, David pined for a taste of water from his home town.
The Three heard David’s desire and took his meaning literally. So, they broke through enemy lines, visited the cistern of Bethlehem to collect the water, and then returned to David.
Loyalty of The Three
The Three were committed to David’s well-being. So much so, that they expressed their loyalty with lavishness. And for this, they became renown.
Generously Loyal to Jesus
When is my offering to Jesus enough?
It was only supposed to be a rhetorical question. But even as I write it, I’m convicted by my own commitment to self-service – my own selfishness.
Relationship with Jesus is my all. Alone, it is my highest good. And alone, it is the fulfillment of my purpose. Knowing Him is my greatest joy.
“In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33
Synopsis 1Chron 10:11-11:6 12/19/2019
King Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin. So, after he was killed and the Philistines had desecrated his body, Benjamites from the town of Jabesh-gilead made a plan. Accordingly, they recovered the bones of Saul and his sons and secretly buried them in Jabesh, under a tree.
Meanwhile, Israel needed a new king. So, the tribal leaders came to David, who was living in Hebron. And, they pressed him to become king over all of Israel.
David agreed. So, they anointed him king. And then, he led the forces of Israel in order to capture Jerusalem from the Jebusites.
In preparation for the siege, King David encouraged his officers to attack aggressively. In response to David’s challenge, Joab led the first wave of the attack against the city. And for this, he earned the right to be the general over all Israelite forces.
David & Joab: Men Of Action
Stories are made out of action. So, it follows that men of action dominate the scripture story. And both David and Joab were such men.
Despite each of these many having many faults and moral failures, God consistently rewarded their active efforts to advance the kingdom of Israel.
People of Action
Like the song says – It’s time to do something.
“Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves….But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22,24
Synopsis 1Chron 9:41-10:8 12/18/2019
King Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin. And Benjamin was the smallest tribe. Even so, he was the first king over the united kingdom of Israel. Accordingly, he fought against Israel’s many enemies.
One of these enemies was the confederation of Philistine cities from the southern coastal region of the Mediterranean. In his final battle, the Philistines killed Saul and all of his sons at Mount Gilboa. After this, they celebrated their victory.
They did this in much the same way as the Israelites had celebrated the defeat of Goliath. When the Philistines found Saul’s body dead on the battle field, they stripped it. They removed his head and his armor and paraded these through their communities. Then they placed the articles in their various pagan temples.
Enemies Gloat Over Saul
As king, Saul had a history of mixed military success. But once David came onto the scene as a general in Saul’s army, Israel began to dominate the Philistines.
However, Saul became jealous of David’s fame. And he feared that David might one day supplant him as king. So, instead of seeking to simply do God’s will, he persecuted David with the intent to kill him. As a result, he became vulnerable and distracted. And so, the Philistines took advantage of this to strike him militarily. This was Saul’s undoing.
My Evil Makes Me Vulnerable
It’s God’s way: My evil deeds make me vulnerable.
Sometimes I resist doing what I know God wants from me. Sometimes I resist because I have other things that I want to do. But more often than not, I resist simply because I’m afraid of what God is calling me to do.
And, it’s often in this process of avoiding God’s call, that I become distracted. My tendency is to blame others for my problems. And sometimes, I even begin to see other people as a threat. In fact, my fears have even triggered insensitivity or cruelty towards the very people that God is calling me to serve. Of course, this is nothing but treachery.
Two thoughts on treachery: First, because it is driven by my fears, I’m liable to persecute other people without realizing what I’m doing.
Second, other people look forward to deposing treachery. Even other treacherous people rejoice when a treacherous person is cast down in humiliation.
And this is what sets me up for failure.
So, be on guard against fear. Trust God in every circumstance. In this way, you will avoid behaving treacherously and making unnecessary enemies.
“my God, in you I trust; do not let me be disgraced; do not let my enemies gloat over me. No one is disgraced who waits for you, but only those who are treacherous without cause.” Psa 25:2-3
Synopsis 1Chron 9:26-40 12/17/2019
The chronicler described the varying responsibilities of the different clans from the tribe of Levi. For example, some clans were responsible for maintaining the vessels used in the sacrificial system. Others were responsible for keeping the ingredients used in the production of incense. And still others were responsible for preparing the showbread at the altar.
Levite Hands for Worship
The sacrificial system of Israelite worship wasn’t a one-man show – or even a one-clan show. The processes of worship required the committed effort of many people.
The Community of Christ
Christ requires a community. That is why the apostle says, “Now you are the body of Christ, and individually parts of it.”
It’s a mistake for any of us to think that we’re in this alone. On the other hand, it is perhaps a more grievous error for me to think that my contribution is meaningless or insignificant.
“As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ” 1Cor 12:12
Synopsis 1Chron 9:14-25 12/16/2019
The chronicler described which Levite families were living in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. In this portion, he focused on the Levites who were responsible for guarding the gates to the tabernacle and temple.
Guarding God’s House
Guarding God’s house wasn’t always necessary. In fact, the temple guards were established well after the time of Moses. Specifically, Samuel the prophet and King David were credited with instituting this position of trust.
While it’s not specifically stated, this was the time right after the Ark of the Covenant had been captured by the Philistines. So, it may be that the guardians were established among the Levites to ensure the security of the Ark.
Guard God’s House
God’s dwells in me. But it seems obvious enough that there’s stuff in this world that estrange my relationship with God. So, if my relationship with God is important, then I need to prevent this estrangement.
I need to guard my heart.
But, I have to be clear. While I certainly need to avoid all kinds of evil, the greatest challenge of purity is my own behavior. Jesus once said, “It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.” Matt 15:11
The truth is, I can see a lot of evil in this world. But nothing defiles me as much as when the evil in this world comes out of my mouth.
“With all vigilance guard your heart, for in it are the sources of life. Dishonest mouth put away from you, deceitful lips put far from you.” Prov 4:23
Synopsis 1Chron 8:37-9:13 12/13/2019
Previously, the chronicler described the genealogy of the first eleven tribes. Then he finished by describing the genealogy of Benjamin. After this, he described the families who lived in Jerusalem after people returned from the Babylonian exile.
Accordingly, he described how people from the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh returned to repopulate the city. And, these did not include the priests and Levites, who were the very first to return.
Returning and Reconciliation
So, even after the exile, Jerusalem remained an inter-tribal city. Leaders and their families from all the remaining tribes chose to live in the restored city.
The phenomena of exiles returning to Jerusalem is evidence of communal reconciliation. In this way, God’s forgiveness and intent to restore the children of Israel is made plain.
Returning to Faith through Church Community
The journey back to the Catholic church feels something like what I imagine the returning exiles experienced.
I encountered Jesus in the first deliberate act of my own will when I practiced in a separated faith community. But before that, my parents had raised me with a knowledge about the Catholic faith as a child.
Unfortunately, like many, I never actually practiced the faith. I never really prayed outside of mass. And, personally, I never read scripture at all. So, discovering Jesus in the Word was both profound and new.
Yet, when the time came, returning to the community of my childhood felt different. It was both new and familiar. I felt like I had completed a process of exilic returning. Of course, separation had always been my decision. No one ever forced me out. I had chosen to be away.
Still, the decision to begin again the practice of Catholic faith felt like I had returned from an exile. Since then, I have come to realize that we are all called to the same thing. This journey is a path to reconciliation and restoration through repentance.
“When the LORD restored the captives of Zion, we thought we were dreaming. Then our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues sang for joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The LORD had done great things for them.’” Psalm 126:1-2
Synopsis 1Chron 8:19-36 12/12/2019
The chronicler described the genealogy of the tribe of Benjamin. The focus of the genealogy was the lineage of King Saul, who was the first king over Israel.
The Thread of Saul
The thread of King Saul’s life emerged from the complex genealogical record. In this way, Saul’s life represented more than just the circumstances he lived through. Rather, his life emerged as a representation of the stream of Israelite lives that coincided with his as the first king.
Life in the Tapestry
The tapestry of life is comprised of a confluence of interwoven life-stories. But I don’t view the tapestry from above. That’s not my perspective. Instead, I view this confluence from within the fabric. So, I see rightly what’s to my left and right, but that doesn’t mean I comprehend the truth. At least, not the whole truth of my situation.
Still, in accordance with the limitations of my perspective, I interpret. I say, “this is good”, or “this is bad”. When in reality, I’d be better off to merely report no more than what actually happened in my experience.
“Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.” Matt 5:37
Synopsis 1Chron 7:28-8:8 12/11/2019
The chronicler described the genealogical record of Asher and Benjamin.
Asher was the eighth son of Jacob. And he was the second son born from his mother, Zilpah.
On his deathbed, Jacob blessed and prophesied concerning Asher. Specifically, he said, “Asher’s produce is rich, and he shall furnish delicacies for kings. (Gen 49:20)
Even so, Asher eventually became one of the ten lost tribes. Assyria overan the tribe at the defeat of the northern kingdom. Then the Assyrians deported the people to distant parts of the empire. In this way, the Asherites lost their identity.
The Power to Respond
Asher and the rest of the northern tribes didn’t have to fail. They didn’t have to split the power of the empire and make themselves vulnerable. They didn’t have to succumb to the temptation of serving false gods.
And neither do I.
Though I have this propensity to sin, I do not have to be a slave. Though I have been mean-spirited and vulgar, I do not have to act out my inclinations. And though I can be calloused and unfriendly, I could choose to love.
I don’t have to be lost. I can accept being found.
“What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?” Matt 18:12
Synopsis 1Chron 62-7:9 12/9/2019
The chronicler finished describing the genealogy for the tribe of Levi. After this, he described the genealogy of leadership for the tribe of Issachar. And following this, he began the description of the lineage of Benjamin.
Heads of Houses and Warriors
The great men of the old nation tribes were the heads of their tribes. And they were warriors.
Actual things enter the reality of this world. But they always begin with potential. And action is what converts potential into actual.
What makes a man or woman a warrior isn’t potential. And it isn’t tribal birth or ancestry. It’s action.
Make action your principle habit.
“So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Jame 2:17
Synopsis 1Chron 6:46-61 12/6/2019
The chronicler carefully described the cities that were assigned to the Levites from each of the twelve tribes.
Israel That Might Have Been
Israel was intended to be a light to the world. And a part of this global process of illumination was the luminescent wisdom of its laws.
Israel was intended to be a land flowing with “milk and honey”. But more importantly than the material blessings, it was to have been a land of incredible justice and righteousness. Israel was designed to be a place where love and acceptance abounded – a holy place that made relationship with the God of all creation visible and tangible.
And, part of this design was the distribution of religious people throughout the community. So, some Israelites were devoted to production of goods and administration of the community. But the religious were present to keep the attention of the people focused on the nation’s commitment to serving God.
Religious and Laity
The example of the religious within community is one that remains in our Catholic tradition. The devotion of priests, and religious brothers and sisters, leavens the community with a reminding awareness that God is present among us.
This is a blessing that I have too often taken for granted.
“For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?8Or what great nation has statutes and ordinances that are as just as this whole law which I am setting before you today?” Deut 4:7-8