By The Rev. Rick Lord
Following Solomon’s death, the ideal of a united Israel ruled by a Davidic king and worshiping in the Jerusalem Temple is ended when the nation splits into two kingdoms: Judah in the south, comprised of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi, which had remained loyal to David’s house; and Israel, the ten northern tribes that broke away.
The Chronicler emphasizes that the destiny of the divided Kingdom depends to a great extent on the genuine character of its leaders. Faithfulness and repentance yields forgiveness and restoration, complacency and arrogance yields judgment and captivity. What was true in the days of the divided kingdom is no less true for our nation and our world today. How critical it is that we choose wise and tested leaders whose moral character is observable in their respect and treatment of others, especially with those less fortunate than themselves.
The Psalmist acknowledges that God’s loyal love is the cause of Israel’s ability to survive the threats and attacks of her enemies. In God’s strong name and by her own faithfulness, Israel will find a lasting help.
In the passage from Romans, Paul offers a unique insight about Scripture and its essential purpose. This purpose might surprise some of us given our present-day tensions on the nature and use of Scripture! Paul doesn’t write that Scripture provides us with a certain moral code, or a theological approach to human life from which there is no deviation. Rather, Paul writes that the primary goal of reading Scripture is to foster encouragement and create hope in us (see Rom. 15:4-6). Paul prays “the God of hope will fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the Holy Spirit” (vs. 13). Perhaps that should be our prayer whenever we approach Scripture and seek to hear the word that God is speaking into the fabric of our daily lives.
What personal qualities of character do you most admire in those called to lead the communities to which you belong?
Do you agree with Paul that primary goal of reading Scripture is to create hope?
Most gracious God, may I find encouragement and hope as I continue to dwell in the transforming narratives of sacred Scripture. Help me to work its wise directives into the way I live—in my words, my judgments, and my actions, that I may be a blessing to others, for your glory and for the sake of the world. Amen.
The Rev. Rick Lord is rector of the Church of the Holy Comforter in Vienna, Virginia