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The Postmodern Catholic

Unit VI: Kings and Prophets
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The Unified Monarchy (1020 BC-920 BC)

History of Monarchy: found in 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings

Reasons for desiring a king:

Increasing Philistine attacks

Weakening of priesthood

Aging of Samuel and the corruption of his sons

The writers of Samuel and Kings make it clear that Yahweh also desired a king for His people

Samuel anoints Saul but only after warning the people of the dangers of abuse when humans rise to power

God’s Law

Key theme is that everyone, including the king, is subject to God’s law

Fidelity to God’s law was still key to Israel’s success

All of Israel’s major kings (Saul, David, and Solomon) eventually violate God’s law and cause themselves and their people suffering

While Saul is victorious militarily, his troubles start when he begins to take over priestly functions of Samuel

With some of his troops deserting him, Saul offers a pre-battle sacrifice himself, highlighting his impatience, pride, and lack of faith

Saul Disobeys God’s Command

Samuel tells Saul to attack the Amalekites and put them under the ban

Saul spares the king because he admires him, and saves the livestock

Samuel realizes he will never see Saul again and grieved because he knew God regretted ever having made Saul king

Following the voice of God, Samuel then goes to Bethlehem to look for a new king

David’s Anointing

Samuel goes to the house of Jesse and offer sacrifice

He meets seven of Jesse’s sons but knows none of them are the chosen of God

Jesse sends for the youngest son, David, who is tending sheep.

Samuel knows he is to be the next king of Israel and anoints him with oil.

The spirit of the Lord then descends upon David

The End of Saul’s Reign

Saul becomes increasingly sad and withdrawn and subject to fits of anger and jealousy

As a boy, David comes to Saul’s palace to sing, play the lute, and read poetry

David begins his rise to fame and popularity when he defeats the Philistine giant Goliath with his sling

First befriended by Saul, David’s growing popularity begins to disturb Saul

Eventually, Saul tries to have David killed by telling him he has to slay 100 Philistine warriors to marry his daughter Michal

David succeeds in killing the 100 which only angers Saul more

Saul again tries to murder David who finally escapes the country and takes refuge with the Philistines

Finally, Saul slaughters a mass of priests because he thought they aided in David’s escape

David makes a pact with Achish, the Philistine leader, to work against Saul

Saul continues to search for David

In a place known for its caves, Saul enters a cave not knowing David was there

David could have easily killed him but did not

David carefully cuts a piece from Saul’s cloak

Another time David comes up to the sleeping Saul and takes his spear but does not kill him

David Becomes King (1000 BC-961 BC)

David is presented as the ideal king and the fulfillment of Yahweh’s promise to his people

He is referred to as the Messiah in Kings

Still, David would fall victim to private sin and near the end of his long reign, he would suffer from much treachery and turmoil within his own household

Under David, Israel would gradually abandon its tribal, nomadic ways

The kingdom of Israel would control the profitable East-West trade routes enabling commerce and agriculture to flourish

Move to Jerusalem

David soon unified all the northern and southern tribes and moved the capital to Jerusalem, the former Jebusite town known as Zion

To weaken tribal leadership, David concentrated political power in himself

He eventually moved the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, making the city, Zion, the City of God

David and Bathsheba

Somewhat bored with life in middle age, David is tempted by the beautiful Bathsheba, the wife of one of his best soldiers Uriah

David gives in and misuses his kingly powers and commits adultery with Bathsheba

On top of that, David also plans to have Uriah killed in battle, giving instructions to his officers to fall back in battle so Uriah becomes surrounded.

Uriah is eventually killed

The prophet Nathan, who knows of David’s sins, comes to David and tells a story of a wealthy man who has many flocks of sheep yet still steals the one small lamb from a poor man

David is outraged and says this man deserves death, not knowing the story is a parable of his own sins

Nathan tells David he is the man in the story

David confesses his sins and repents. However, he is not freed from the consequences

The rest of his reign is marked by internal family problems: His favorite son Absalom, eventually rebels against David and who is eventually killed.

Bathsheba’s son Solomon will eventually succeed David as king

Solomon (961 BC-921 BC)

Under Solomon Israel reaches the peak of his power and prestige

Solomon is remembered as a model for wisdom

After doing such a good job in building the temple to Yahweh, Solomon is described in Kings as being granted any wish by Yahweh.

He wisely asks for an "understanding heart"

The Book of Proverbs (traditionally attributed to Solomon) is the first of what is known as the wisdom literature of the Bible

Corruption of Wealth

Under Solomon, Israel reached the height of its wealth and power

With this prosperity, people (again) forgot the covenant and its requirements

There was increased polarization of wealth

Sin became more common

Even Solomon near the end of his reign engaged in idolatry. Enter the Prophets

The Prophets

The Hebrew prophets were the instruments of God’s will and the Voice of God

Certain individuals began to warn of the coming disaster for Israel if they did not reform

After the reign of Solomon, there were a couple of ineffective kings

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D. “The more I am able to affirm others, to say ‘yes” to them in myself, by discovering them in myself and myself in them, the more real I am. I am fully real if my own heart says yes to everyone” Thomas Merton