Human machinations

The first two chapters of 1 Kings present an exceptionally strategic and even bloody picture of the continuity of the house of David.  While a holistic perspective on the nature of the kingdom(s) of Israel and the kingdom of God might tend to see Solomon’s early actions as performing the will of God, I question that assumption.  It rather seems to me that King David and his son the new king were more intent on strategically working out the human and physical protection of the dynasty.

Image result for king david king solomon

Could God use said dynasty?   Could he work in and through those people?

Absolutely.

Had David previously been presented in the narrative after has a man after God’s heart?  And would Solomon be shown to be a man of wisdom (among other hallmarks)?

Of course.

Yet the inaugural days of Solomon’s reign clearly spotlight the human, earthly, even political and warring interests of the people who would be God’s.

Even to this present day, it is good to distinguish between human interests and goals on the one hand and God’s interests and end-goals on the other.  The machinations of human enterprises are fraught with earth-bound motives and are surely . . . well, earth-bound.

Even important concerns such as the right treatment of others can be hopelessly shrouded by human enterprise.  In the context of awareness of injustice and political action around civil rights in the 1960s, Will Campbell appears to have seen most contemporary politics as futile flailings-about:

But just here is the political tragedy, for what is wrong with us politically cannot be corrected so long as we insist by our political action that politics can correct everything that is wrong with us. . . .  (emphases are the author’s)

The political activity of the ecumenical movement, social agencies, and seminaries of mainline (and most fundamentalist) Protestantism, regardless of their theological orientation, have in large part been expressions of just this Baalism.  We have accepted with little or no objection the judgment about crises and the list of priorities offered up by Caesar, the political order. . . .

God’s vicars in denominational social agencies, seminaries, pulpits, and religious journals have merely lined themselves and their constituency, money, and manpower behind Caesar’s definition of the issues facing nation and poeple.

– Will D. Campbell, “Up to Our Steeples in Politics,” 1968, quoted in Writings on Reconciliation and Resistance, ed. Richard Goode (Cascade/Wipf and Stock, 2010), pp. 184, 186

I don’t see reconciliation as quite the central concern that Will Campbell did, but that might be because my experiences, textual study included, are not Campbell’s.  I do agree with what I see as an overarching emphasis of his:  that the way a believer relates to people around him ought to be determined by Jesus, not by “Caesar.”  No matter whether the issue is fair school opportunity, domestic abuse, fair trade, local taxation, immigration, the “right to life,” or any number of other concerns, it is wise for believers to distinguish between human interests and goals on the one hand and God’s interests and end-goals on the other.  A country or other governmental entity might well do one thing through reasoned process, whereas a believer in Jesus, relating to one human soul or group, might be compelled to do another thing altogether.


For more from Will Campbell, please see this post on my other blog:  MLK, Jr. Day: A Tribute to Will Campbell

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