Day 165: The Lover and the beloved
1 Kings 15:1-24 Abijah ruled Judah for a short time in the scandalous tradition of his father, but his son Asa was more in the tradition of David: a flawed king who nevertheless sought to be faithful to God’s law. Asa banished the prostitutes and idols and allied with Damascus to defeat the encroaching armies of Israel and destroy the cities that Baasha had begun to build on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Ch 16:24-34 Omri is significant for having founded Samaria as his capital, but his sins outpaced those of his predecessors during his twelve-year reign. His son Ahab then surpassed him in corruption, marrying the evil Jezebel and taking Israel deeper into idolatry. He all but changed his allegiance from the God of Israel to the Canaanite god Baal.
Song of Solomon 4:1-16 This section of the poem expresses the lover’s affection for his beloved both in physical attributes and in the depth of feelings and desire he feels for her. This allegory illustrates the covenant between God and Israel, which is likened to a marriage. Israel, in a number of passages of the Old Testament, is described as a repentant, purified spouse who is offered to a divine lover. Moreover, Paul taught that marriage is a sacramental sign of Christ’s love for and union with his Church. (CCC 1616, 1644, 2352, 2362, 2368)
Ch 4:7 This verse is seen in Church tradition as suggestive of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, the Mother of Christ. (CCC 499-501)
Ch 4:12 A garden locked, a fountain sealed: This is an allusion to the purity and virginity of the beloved. The sensory descriptions in this section and into the beginning of chapter 5 serve as an allegory for the consummation of the marriage through the conjugal union of the couple. In the covenant relationship as well as in the covenant of marriage, the consummation effectively seals the covenant of the mutual covenant of self-giving. (CCC 1640, 2348-2350)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
The Northern Kingdom of Israel (The Ten Tribes)
After Jeroboam’s death, the narrative of 1 and 2 Kings alternates back and forth between stories concerning the kings of Israel in the north and the kings of Judah in the south.
In addition, each new section in the narrative begins by naming not only the king to be discussed, but often notes the king currently reigning in the other kingdom as well.
Given this, it is important for the reader to be attentive to the narrative and which particular king it is describing.
Jeroboam’s son, Nadab, succeeds his father and is murdered in his second year by Baasha.
Nadab’s quick and violent end fulfills Ahijah’s prophecy (1 Kgs 14:10).
Baasha learns nothing from Jeroboam’s disastrous example, so God sends the prophet Jeshu to Baasha, declaring: “...You have walked in the way of Jeroboam, and have made my people Israel to sin, provoking me to anger with their sins, behold, I will utterly sweep away Baasha and his house.” (1 Kgs 16:2)
Baasha’s son reigns briefly but is violently cut off.
After a couple additional coups and a small civil war, a soldier named Omri seizes the kingship over the ten tribes of Israel (1 Kgs 16:21).
Omri founds an important dynasty that lasts longer than any other non-Davidic dynasty in Israel.
He purchases a hill from Shemer for two talents of silver, and there establishes a new fortified capital city.
Named after Shemar, the place is henceforth called Samaria.
This location is strategic, as it is bordered by three valleys with roads for easy access to the west, south, and east.
Omri, however, provokes the anger of the Lord by walking in the ways of Jeroboam (that is, continuing the calf cult and its break with the Jerusalem Temple and the Levitical priesthood), and Omri’s son Ahab proves even worse.
“And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all that were before him. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam...he...went and served Baal, and worshiped him. (1 Kgs 16:30-31)
Ahab’s story will illustrate just how far from God the northern kings will lead their people-and how God constantly sends his prophets in a never-ending attempt to win back the hearts of his people.
(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)
Song of Solomon is the love song between God and His People
St. John Paul II wrote Theology of the Body
It is a series of teachings that he had given over 5 years on Wednesdays at Vatican City
It was 135 Wednesdays over 5 or so years
At one point, he reflected on Song of Solomon
He noted that the Lover knocks on the door and the Beloved either can answer or not answer
If she answers, that’s great and he can come inside
If she doesn’t answer, then he doesn’t force his way in
When it comes to love between a man and a woman, of the love between husband and wife, the woman ALWAYS REMAINS a master of her own MYSTERY
This means that even if they are married, her husband, every time he initiates intimacy with her, he knocks and she can say NO
St. John Paul II said that this is the man’s risk.
He always risks when he initiates, even as a husband
“She is not mine to just USE. She is not mine for MY OWN PLEASURE.”
He KNOCKS and he RISKS
He KNOCKS and he WAITS
The Beloved can always REFUSE
Song of Solomon 4:12 “A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a garden locked, a fountain sealed.”
He can’t force his way in
The woman ALWAYS has possession of herself
She gives of herself to her man or she doesn’t
She gets to CHOOSE whether she gives herself or not
He approaches with love and with tenderness
It is a RISK
She can REFUSE
St. John Paul II points out that every time we approach those with whom we might even have a romantic relationship, it is always my sister first
Why is that?
It’s not that I have a sexualized view of my sister
You first approach your BRIDE as SISTER
You first approach your BRIDE as one who exists for love FOR HER OWN SAKE
NOT AS YOUR BRIDE FIRST
She FIRST exists AS HERSELF
Does that make sense?
St. John Paul II goes on to say that as often as husbands and wives approach each other like this, first seeing as each other as the other who exists FOR THEIR OWN SAKE, FOR THE LORD’S SAKE
FIRST AS SISTER
FIRST AS BROTHER
Then they can TRULY give themselves as GROOM
They can TRULY give themselves as BRIDE
They first see each other as who they TRULY ARE
NOT AS WHO THEY ARE TO ME (YOU)
It maintains the dignity of the PERSON before being a spouse
When it comes to Kings and Chronicles, WRITE THE NAMES DOWN of the KINGS and the PROPHETS and WRITE WHERE THEY ARE AT, NORTH OR SOUTH!!
If you have the Great Adventure Bible, the timeline shows so clearly who the kings are
We have overlap between Kings and Chronicles with some kings being in BOTH books
Tomorrow we are introduced to a prophet you may have heard of, Elijah
Remember, NONE of the kings in the North will be good
Ahab in particular is going to be a bad one
We did talk about a couple of good kings today, though
Asa started as a good king, but did not end well
Kind of like Solomon
The King of Israel, Baasha, enters into a covenant with the King of Syria
Asa tried to get the King of Syria on his side with money
This seems like a good idea
But Hanani, the seer, comes to Asa and chastises him for relying on the King of Syria and NOT ON THE LORD
Remember yesterday when Asa faced down the Ethiopian army?
Asa had 500,000 troops
Ethiopia had 1 MILLION troops
Asa was STILL VICTORIOUS
Because Asa relied on the Lord
Now, Asa entered covenant with Syria
Instead of REPENTING and turning back to the Lord, Asa REBELS AGAINST THE LORD
He is in a RAGE with the seer and puts him in prison
A couple of years later, Asa gets sick and instead of SEEKING THE LORD, he seeks physicians
For 35 years, Asa is REALLY FAITHFUL to the Lord
And the last part of his life, he is NOT FAITHFUL TO THE LORD
That’s the big lesson for all of us
We can spend so much of our lives being faithful
We don’t just want to START WELL
We want to END WELL
Jehoshaphat, Asa’s son, is going to start well, reign well, and pretty much end well
We will start following Jehoshaphat’s story (SOUTH) and Ahab’s story (NORTH)
Ahab is going to be a pretty bad king
The great thing about reading Kings and Chronicles at the same time is that we will hear the names of the kings multiple times
The bad thing about reading Kings and Chronicles at the same time is that we will wonder if we have heard all this before? 🤔
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father, we give you praise and we love you. Please receive our love. Please receive our praise. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”
4:7 Christ calls us—both the Church and the individual soul—“beautiful” and declares there to be “no flaw” in us because he, himself, has made us beautiful and has washed away all of our sins in his own perfect blood. He has conjugally united himself to his Church and to our souls, and we have become one with him. When he sees us, he sees himself in us, an icon of the Father’s perfect love, for “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). We, the Church, are the beautiful Bride of Christ. Even in the mire of our sin, may we never forget our beauty.
4:8 The mountains which are named here “symbolize obstacles that would separate the lovers” (NABRE), particularly pride. The Bridegroom calls upon the Bride to descend from the peaks of such mountains, like Christ, who, “though he was in the form of God,” in his “sublime humility” (St. Francis of Assisi), “emptied himself” (Phil. 2:6-7). Christ oft repeats, “Follow me,” but to do so requires one to “lay down one’s life” (Jn. 15:13), to “deny himself” and “take up his cross” (Mt. 16:24). It is only when we empty ourselves that we may be filled with the love of God and to follow him wherever he goes. And where does he go? As he descends from the heights of his divinity and humbly assumes our lowly humanity, he then lovingly ascends Mount Calvary, taking our humanity with him and elevating it to the heights of his divinity. This is the great mystery of God’s love for us, but it requires us to be willing to leave everything behind and to come down from the mountain of our ego to meet our humble Lord face to face and heart to heart.
4:11 The honey refers to the sweetness of God’s Law, which the Psalmist says is “sweeter also than honey, or drippings from the comb” (Ps. 19:11). The milk refers to the “pure spiritual milk” of orthodoxy, which we, “like newborn infants,” consume “so that, through it,” we may “grow into salvation” (1 Pt. 2:2).
4:12-16 The Bride is likened to a garden because this scene is the climactic reversal of the narrative of the Fall in the Garden of Eden. In the Eden narrative, following the sin of Adam and Eve, God is depicted as walking through the garden during the “breezy time of day” (Gn. 3:8). The breeze here is interpreted allegorically as the Holy Spirit convicting our first parents of their sin against God. Since the garden narrative of the Song of Songs is a reversal of the narrative of Genesis, we also see God calling for the wind to “blow upon” the garden; this time, however, he calls the Holy Spirit not to convict us of our sins but to testify to our “perfumes,” or the virtues Christ has brought to fruition in us, that they “may spread abroad.” The festering malodor of sin, the “odor of death that leads to death” (2 Cor. 2:16), gives way to the “fragrant aroma” (Eph. 5:2) of the “flowing perfume” of Christ (Sg. 1:3), the “odor of life that leads to life” (2 Cor. 2:16).
4:13-14 The plants mentioned here are reminiscent of the sacred temple liturgy. Pomegranates adorned the two exterior columns of the Temple of Solomon (1 Kgs. 7:18) and lined the hem of the High Priest’s vestments (Ex. 28:33-34). When considered in the context of the garden mentioned in Sirach 24, these plants emit the “odor of incense in the holy tent” (Sir. 24:15). Cf. Ex. 30:23-28, 34-35. These fragrant plants were indicative of the abundance of the Garden of Eden, the first temple in which man communed with the living God.
4:15 This is a fulfillment of Is. 58:11. The water represents the Holy Spirit. Similarly, connecting the garden of the Song to the Garden of Eden, Sirach 24 mentions the four rivers which flow from Eden (Sir. 24:25-27, cf. Gn. 2:10-14).
4:16 This is an invitation to receive Christ mystically into one’s heart.
Fun fact: I pray this little verse each time before receiving the Eucharist. Try it out! 🙂
My Study Color Code
■ Suffering, Martyrdom ■ Places ■ The Church, Sacraments, Divinity ■ Horticultural Imagery ■ People ■ Messianic Kingship ■ Sin, Death, Decay