Despite the detailed description, I have found it pretty much impossible to envisage what the Temple that Solomon built would have looked like. Normally as I read there is some visual image in my brain but here nothing. It sounds like the sort of place I would find too busy and distracting, and not at all inspiring, not that I would have necessarily been allowed in. Mies van der Rohe was on to something with his belief that less is more. And it gets me to thinking as to what a place of worship is. There is also mention of facing the Temple to pray on more than one occasion, not actually being inside it, and many beliefs have this idea of facing a certain direction or object to focus one’s prayers or thoughts. Focal points have stood the test of time but are they really necessary, and if so do they really need to be so opulent?
There is something about David that you kind of marvel at in that his view of himself is so high but also contradictory. In his Song of Victory he sings of obeying the laws and commands of the Lord and being rewarded for this and being faultless, but then invites punishment at times for doing wrong. Can anyone be faultless? Maybe I am starting from a low expectation of people but I see everyone as flawed in some way, including myself. I feel I should point out that this does not mean I have low self-esteem as such, just that I recognise I have weaknesses or things I wish I could change that I seem unable to do anything about. And even if they are not weaknesses as such, I would seriously question that anyone is or could be ‘perfect’. I know that I have touched on this in a previous post (1 Samuel 8-15) but it seems that many subjects come up time and time again, repetition perhaps enforcing the point – whatever that may be.
And on that note, I will admit that I am not much into history, and am a pacifist, so all this talk of battles and famous soldiers does not impress me, in fact it abhors me. I cannot find any justifiable reason for killing anyone, again a subject I know I have touched on before. I have a feeling that the books of Kings are going to be more of the same.
I came across the following article online yesterday.
Given the life of David which has been covered in the second book of Samuel I am reading right now, it seemed all too easy to me that someone could believe they are a prophet and behave in this way: taking many wives; having many children but having very little to do with them; giving orders for people to be killed; keeping on the move. And all in the name of the Lord. Yes, I think it is wrong and cannot comprehend how someone not born into this could willingly choose to join such a group (I’m reluctant to call it a cult for reasons I am not too sure I can voice) but where we are always looking for proof or evidence to substantiate things I can see how someone could use David’s life in the Bible to back up a similar claim.
And yet punishment is meted out for wrongs carried out but still they occur – obviously the punishment for rape, murder, manslaughter is not deterrent enough not to do it, just as the deterrent these days is not enough to stop someone carrying out these crimes against humanity.
One of my goals of starting this blog was to explore my faith, or what faith, if any, I have. There is a long way to go but I am starting to think that any faith I may have cannot have any basis on the Bible. So far, I am finding very little that is positive to take from it. And there is a niggling feeling that I am disappointed by this which is perhaps not what I expected. And there are still the inconsistencies that bug me such as Absalom having three sons and a daughter but then later having no son to keep his name alive, so what can I actually take from any part of the Bible anyway when we have these contradictions. Like any written work, each individual will take from it what they will.
David is a contradictory character that I’m having trouble respecting. On the one hand he is portrayed as loyal, loving, kind and even peaceful. On the other hand, he seems to kill and harm for fun, has numerous children by numerous different mothers, and gives a prominent job to someone he also punishes for murdering someone. And like just about everyone else who has come before he suffers from his own doubts of faith. Not that kings and leaders are exempt from doubts about their faith, David is certainly not alone in that regard, but I wonder what this tells us about our leaders in general and maybe we expect too much from them, including from the Lord himself.
I was lucky enough to holiday in South Africa when Nelson Mandela was president. It struck me very poignantly at the time, that much as he was held in reverence, it would have been very unlikely that he would ever have been elected a leader in my country given his past history. That humans can change and develop is not an easy thing to overcome or be forgiven by the press, and they carry such influence on the general public very few of whom seem to delve and think deeper than the headlines and what they are presented with. Sometimes the ‘facts’ we are given are not that at all and much like this blog just one person’s opinion and only ever tell us what they think is important meaning some salient omissions.
This notion that it is better, or nobler or more valiant, to die at one’s own hand than that of another is alien to me. I cannot imagine a situation when I could be compelled into doing that and taking my own life even if I knew that if I did not then someone else would. I know I have lived a charmed life but still… I can understand the notion of controlling your own death though medication when the inevitable is going to happen anyway but to actually inflict hurt upon yourself through stabbing yourself, or since the invention of guns and explosives to shoot oneself, when it is never going to be certain that you would die anyway at the hands of another, is just something I cannot comprehend.
What goes through someone’s mind so they can tolerate doing that to themselves? Maybe I am wrong but I would say that it would take an untold amount of mental strength, not that I am in admiration of it. Most people in their right mind do not want to suffer but maybe we are back to control and power again. If you are in control of your own destiny then it is you has the power over someone else and that seems to be a very human thing that none of us are exempt from in one way or another.
We all think we know the story of David and Goliath, and how is it that this ‘legend’ has become so universally known? But is the story of David and Jonathan perhaps the greatest love story never told? I am not suggesting that their love was consummated, but then who knows what has been lost in translation, but in the context of living today perhaps the unsaid could be taken as this. But even if not, the level of love and loyalty shown between the two men whose lives cross quite by chance has to be admired when so far we have met so much distrust and destruction and a seemingly complete disregard for anyone else’s life.
And is it true that ‘evil is done only by evil men’? Do ‘evil men’ exist? Yes, human beings (men and women) do truly terrible things and I often pause to wonder what was going through their mind to make them think of doing such a thing in the first place, never mind then following through with that thought without any conscious thought of how wrong that would be, or if they do have that thought it certainly is not strong enough to stop them. But is someone truly and wholly ‘evil’? And if so, is there something that makes them that way, or are they unlucky enough to be born that way and it is the burden they are pre-destined to carry for life? I realise these questions are rhetorical and I don’t suppose I will ever find satisfactory answers to them no matter what I read or who I talk to.
Man is flawed and so it seems is the Lord. Admitting and owning up to our mistakes is the hardest part, and those who do are to be commended. Yet perfection is expected and strived for, and very rarely achieved. And in whose eyes is this perfection anyway? Why are we all so judgemental? We are all judged on our actions, or our inaction, just as we judge others. But would we really want everyone in the world to be the same as us? – I certainly would not. I may see flaws in others, disagree strongly with them and judge them, but equally I recognise that I have my own flaws and while I may think that the world might be a better place if some certain people thought more like me, it also may not. I will just never know, the possibilities would be endless, and who knows what the butterfly effect would bring about.
Just as admitting to our own mistakes is hard, it also takes effort and courage to carry on believing, and loving and forgiving people for their flaws. None of us, not even the Lord, is perfect and nor will we ever be.