Ancient Law in Scripture

Many folks I know have committed to read the entire Bible – an ambitious plan, but one I highly commend and recommend. For some, their plan was to begin at the beginning with Genesis and read straight through to Revelation. That would never be my recommendation. The Bible is not a novel that moves seamlessly from book to book. Rather it is a collection of books. The Genesis-to-Revelation plan has been written about in posts about beginning and sometimes how tough that approach can be – especially when hits the book of Leviticus.

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A Heart Contrite and Humble

David, son of Jesse – the one who became King of Judah and Israel – anointed as a young lad, the one who defeated Goliath, the one who established Jerusalem as the holy city and brought the Ark of the Covenant to reside. King David of whom the Books of Kings and Chronicles hold up as favored of God, as the high-water mark of all the kings – it is his voice who cries out to the Lord. “A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn” (Ps 51:19) Such is the refrain from the Responsorial Psalm from today’s readings.

The psalm begins “A psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone to Bathsheba.” It describes a scene from 2 Sam 11:1 thru 12:14 in which King David was sleeping with another man’s wife (Bathsheba), impregnated her, and arranged her husband Uriah’s murder. The confessional prayer of this Psalm is deeply personal for David, but its instructional elements provide a framework for how we are to have a heart contrite and humble. The Psalm is best read as a whole taking all 19 verses into context. As you read through the Psalm, you will find a few key elements that explain what it means to have a contrite heart.

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Jonah – heading down

When last seen Jonah had booked passage for Tarshish in order to flee as far from God and the prophetic mission as possible. It certainly was his decision to make, but one of the points I believe the author is making is that our decisions are (a) never isolated from our other decisions, they form the path we walk, the character we are developing, and (b) never isolated from others. Consequences pour out from our choices into the lives of others. His personal choice leaves in place the wrecking ball of evil that is Assyria and Nineveh. He could choose to fulfill his mission and either (a) they are destroyed or (b) they repent. Either way the “wrecking ball” is out of action. But he is too self-centered, selfish to potentially sacrifice himself for the others, for the mission. And now he will drag others down by his choice to run.

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