Monday, June 13, 2011

1 Chronicles 13-22: warfare and worship

I am back from Annual Conference, and finally home for long enough to blog regularly again! Rather than trying to reflect on all the readings from the past week, I will just reflect on today’s reading and go from there (because seriously, 10 chapters each day is plenty to write about).

“David said to Solomon, ‘My son, I had planned to build a house to the name of the LORD my God. But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have waged great wars; you shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood in my sight on the earth. See, a son shall be born to you; he shall be a man of peace. I will give him peace from all his enemies on every side; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days.’” 1 Chr 22.7-9 NRSV

As someone who reads the Bible through the lens of a commitment to peace, this passage caught my eye. Here, we see that the LORD will not allow David to build the temple because David has waged wars and shed blood. David is not worthy to build a house for God—the place where God will reside among God’s people—because he has lived a life of violence rather than peace.

Now, it is important to touch on the meaning of the word “peace” in this context; in The HarperCollins Study Bible, biblical scholar Ralph W. Klein points out that in this passage, the word “peace” literally means “rest” (588). Here, “peace” means a time of rest from war, not a radical commitment to nonviolence.

However, regardless of the exact definition of peace in this passage, one thing is clear: there is a connection between warfare and worship. David’s warfare—his acts of violence and bloodshed—disqualifies him from building the temple. His violence prohibits him from building the place that will become the center of the communal life of the people of Israel, the place where God will dwell among God’s people.

In the same way, I would argue that when we act violently, we limit our ability to worship God well. Violence is not limited to the physical—we do violence with words and actions, and all too often with silence and inaction. By doing violence, we not only harm others, we harm ourselves. And as we do harm to others and ourselves, we forget who God is because we fail to see the face of God in the faces around us. We become numb to the touch of the Spirit, unable to listen to the voice of God, precisely because we have forgotten how to listen to one another.

As David passes the torch of temple building to Solomon, we are reminded that our actions and our worship are undeniably linked.

May our lives reflect our worship, and our worship shape our lives.

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