August 19, 2012
First Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14
Our reading jumps from the account of David’s death to Solomon’s killing his older half-brother, Adonijah, and David’s old general, Joab, because he suspected them of planning a coup. But there ends the violence. Solomon’s prayer is a sort of hinge in the saga of the family, closing a story of family murder and warfare bred of ambition, and opening a story of sane rule and religious tolerance. Solomon does not ask for power or riches or honor, but with a humility uncharacteristic of his family, he asks for wisdom. God, surprised and pleased, grants his request.
Our assigned readings do no include the most famous story of Solomon’s justice, his judgment that settles a quarrel between two women claiming to be the mother of a baby. Read it yourself at 3:16-28.
I don’t understand why our bishops chose this passage. The verses before it are colorful and provocative, but this is made up of vague generalities. Just go out there and “understand what the will of the Lord is”—as though that were not a problem.
And Paul’s rules for families are omitted from our reading. I don’t think our bishops wanted us to hear Paul saying, “Wives, be subject to your husbands….” “He who loves his wife loves himself….” “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling….” I doubt that the bishops thought we might take such instruction seriously. I think they did not want us to see such an unpleasant side of Paul.