Picture Proverbs Riddles
Sunday Reading For The Young
When The Saints Come Marching Through
Solomon Saturday Bible Study
Book Of Daniel
PRAYING IN THE DEN
This story takes place in the sixth century B.C. Daniel was a smart kid with a bright future, but as a young adult he was part of the exile of the Jewish people taken captive to Babylonia. Daniel was a man without fear, who believed his prayers were for a hearing God and found great grace among his captors. First, he got them to change the menu and serve them healthier foods. He served in the king's court and was elevated to prominence when he interpreted the king's dreams and was put in charge of all the wise men in the land. Daniel's visions and prophecies and stories stood the test of time. He was put in charge of the court and called the president of the land. He was preferred above the princes and presidents because there was an excellent spirit in him. They could find no fault in him; he is trustworthy, not corrupt nor negligent, so they assembled together to trap him with a decree the king would sign and issue stating no man can petition God in prayer for thirty days. Daniel left his windows open and continued to pray giving thanks before God. Because of his rank and office they sought to bring Daniel down. Daniel fell into royal disfavor when he disobeyed the order King Darius decreed for all not to pray or be tossed to the lions. They locked Daniel in the cave, a lion's den, overnight with ferocious hungry beasts, but Daniel continued to pray and was not afraid. He persevered in prayer. God sent an angel to shut the mouths of the beasts and protected Daniel who survived the night, the lions laying down like purring kittens, and Daniel released into the dawn of the morning to the king, elevated again, really as a witness to the truth and the power of God, and the triumph of prayer, faith, and love over fear. And King Darius issued a new decree to all the people, nations and men of every language throughout the land that they must now revere the God of Daniel: "May you prosper greatly! I issue this decree in every part of my kingdom people must honor the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; His kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; He performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions." And Daniel prospered because he believes in God!
Read: Job 42: 2,3 Psalm 1: 1-3 Psalm 23 & 24 Proverbs 1: 1-7 Ecclesiastes 1: 2-9 & 3:1-8 Song Of Songs
Hearing God's voice
Seeking God's face
Expressing God's heart
Opens by God's grace
In his holy presence
Spirit and truth heard
In tune with bright praise
Worship and in the Word
Throughout Scripture we see many poems and songs, and many different styles of writing, all inspired from the same source, the Spirit of God. From the Book of Job, to the song of Moses and songs of his sister Miriam, Deborah's song in Judges, the Song of Ruth, songs of David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah and many of the prophets, the Bible is brimming with poetry, and sometimes spoken by the Lord, or through others written for special occasions, flowing with its own rhythm and unique message, and sometimes the poems are united together in a collection. The book of Psalms is a book of praises, many written by David, but also by other members of his choir such as Asaph. Some are designated as songs, very specific in being set to music, with stringed instruments, the lyre, or with flute, cymbals, drums, or to the tune of "another song"; and some psalms are designated as prayers. David turns his heart to God through his talent, poems and lyrics, with praises and worship, to honor God and to sustain him and encourage others through all the trials of life. His son Solomon, also King of Israel, has a left us a testament of some of the greatest poetry of mankind, the love poetry of Song of Songs, the wisdom of the Book of Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes or The Preacher, or one who gathers the congregation. The poetry in the Old Testament did not rhyme but the characteristics of its language is poetry. When you hark to the words of the psalms it moves in a river of sound within the musician. Come read out loud and hear what the Spirit is saying and hum to the river of sound within.
When The Saints Come Marching Through
ST. ROSE was born in Lima, at the end of the sixteenth century, of rich and honored parents. At her christening she was named Isabel, but, as she lay so rose-leaf fair in her cradle, her mother, calling her "my rose," renamed her.
She grew up beautiful as the day, but from childhood her hatred of vanity was as remarkable as her beauty, as also was the severity with which she ruled herself. For food she chose herbs bitter as wormwood, for bed she took the hard ground. When her mother bade her wear roses in her hair to enhance her loveliness—for her skin rivaled the roses in its brilliance and delicacy—she so arranged the wreath that it became a crown of thorns, which kept her constantly reminded of her Savior's sufferings.
In vain a host of suitors sighed for her hand; she would listen to no word of love, and when their pleadings and her parents' importunities had become insistent, she disfigured her too charming visage by the application of a mixture of pepper and quick-lime.
She early took the habit of the Third Order of St Dominic, and after this her life became one long chapter of patient service and filial devotion, for her parents became poor and she toiled early and late to provide for them. All day she worked in her garden, and all night she plied her needle. Throughout these hardships, uncomplainingly borne, she was upheld and strengthened by ecstatic visions and visitations; the Infant Jesus was with her among the roses of her garden, His Blessed Mother was her companion during the watches of the night.
Hearing of these wonders, doctors and divines questioned and examined her to discover if she were sane or mad, but she stood their tests in such wise that they decided that her visions were from God.
She died after a long illness when she was thirty-one years old.
Then it was that the people of Peru realized that in very truth a Saint had dwelt among them, and many years after her death a company of devout believers in the holy maid's sanctity sailed for Rome to entreat Pope Clement X to canonize their cherished compatriot.
The Pope listened skeptically to the one hundred and eighty who bore witness to the wonders performed both before and after her death by their candidate for canonization. It may be that he was not convinced that what he heard fulfilled the requirements; perhaps he did not discern among Rose's achievements the three miracles of the first magnitude of which he must have proof; mayhap he found in the annals but two! At all events he finally summed up his general unbelief in the fitness of one who had lived away off there in the outland of the Western hemisphere, . . . in the Indies . . . in the wilds . . . in the unknown . . . in one exclamation: "India and Saint! As likely as that it should rain roses!"
No sooner had the words left his lips than a heavenly fragrance filled the air, heralding the fall of a shower of roses—they had far to come from the heavens, and their perfume preceded them.
And then came the flowers, thick and fast and soft and sweet. Both the puzzled Pontiff and the enraptured witnesses were filled with wonder at the marvel. Down they came—red and white—the roses of Paradise—emblems of love and purity—covering the floor of the Vatican with an ever deepening carpet of velvety petals.
Not at once could Clement bring himself to yield his point, but as long as he hesitated, just so long the shower continued. At last, seeing no other way to stop the gentle insistence of the perfumed flood, the Pope acknowledged his incredulity mistaken, and confessed himself convinced.
She is Saint Rose of Lima!
A Picture Proverb is like a riddle that is thought-provoking.
"A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter."
"In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise."
As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him."
"The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute."
A talebearer is a gossip carelessly chattering about secrets, lacking discretion, double-tongued, speaking behind other's backs; to such a person it is safe to trust nothing. He that is of a faithful spirit however is steadfast and trustworthy and knows what matters should be concealed. Betraying a confidence is unkind and often injurious when no harm is meant. It is ungenerous to tell all we know, though sometimes it's our duty to speak out, of unpleasant truths, giving witness to justice, character, honesty with discernment. The poet Wordsworth describes the influence of narrow personal talk in contrast with conversation on topics of larger, nobler interest: "Sweetest melodies are those that are by distance made more sweet. Whose mind is but the mind of his own eyes, He is a slave-the meanest we can meet."
Speech is important and silence is golden. We cannot avoid sin; and boastfulness, carelessness and a lack of watchfulness over our words can find us bending the truth through exaggeration, idle words that lead to slander; it's where our kindness starts to slip. It is prudent to be reserved than revealing the faults of a babbling tongue. There is a time to speak and a time for silence and wisdom to know when, and measured according to our individual temperament, our patience, our critical thinking.
Being lazy is like sour wine that sets the teeth on edge or smoke that blinds our eyes with tears. These annoyances, irritations, are like the messenger who loiters on his errand, sluggish, uninspired. The lazy man is a nuisance who vexes his life with his indifference and passivity.
The diligent rise in life: the workers, the doers, those taking incentive and action; and the slothful, full of decay, neglectful, busybodies of inactivity, fussy and ill-placed, are subject to them. When we are diligent, with keeping of our own heart in its spiritual nature, our tongue, hand and mind are in immediate connection, from it flows the streams of life and inspire us to spiritual heights.
WHEN THE SAINTS COME MARCHING THROUGH:
St. Ambrose - December 7th
St. Anthony (San Antonio) - October 24th
"Pleasant words are a honeycomb
Sweet to the soul and health to the bones."
A bit of kindness, a pleasant phrase, soothing comfort, a soft word, costs little yet means so much. The comparison with honey speaks across all cultures through every generation.
As a story goes, his father watches a swarm of bees covering the infant head of Ambrose in his cradle, and when the bees lifted they left a drop of honey on his lips, foreshadowing his future persuasive eloquence.
The honeybee is a symbol for work, industrious, pleasant, busy, cooperative, creative, orderly, and diligent. The honey produces a symbol of wisdom, sweetness, wealth, eloquence, and positive changes pleasing to the soul, and the senses, with healing characteristics. The Hebrew name for bees is connected to the word "speech". The true and righteous words of our Lord are said in the Bible to be "sweeter than honey" and the pleasant words of humans compares to the health-giving honeycomb. A sweet-talking person's lips "drip as the honeycomb" with honeyed tongues. The Bible refers to the Promised Land as a land of abundance "flowing with milk and honey."
St. Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, as I know of him, is the patron saint of beekeepers, bees, and candlemakers. He taught that the church is like a beehive, and the bees faithful, diligently storing up honey like treasure in heaven. The beehives represent a peaceful, cooperative community wisely ruled by one head, the Queen bee. The bee is also the emblem of Christ, like the sweetness produced by His eloquence and because His words may sting the sinner. When Jesus Christ, resurrected from the dead, appearing behind locked doors to his disciples, they thought they were seeing a ghost, even after He spoke to them and showed them his punctured hands and feet, they still did not believe it was him, until he ate a piece of fish and honeycomb, convincing them this was not a ghost, but the same man they saw die, now return in the flesh to life, fully alive.
Like the lion, bees represent vigilance. And because they store up honey, they are examples of thrift, banking and forethought.
Ambrose is known as the Honey-Tongued Doctor, bestowed upon him because of his speaking and preaching abilities. He is also a teacher, and a Bible student who converted and baptized St. Augustine, and was a great influence on the Roman emperor. Born to Roman nobility, he was a wealthy man who gave it away to the poor, serving up as an example to others. He was part of a chanting choir and wrote many hymns. Ambrose is a great orator, and a Christian universalist, who believes that all people shall eventually achieve salvation.
Love is magnanimous, and its eloquence sweet as honey. Solomon understood nature and drew wisdom from his surroundings. He wrote: "Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off." A positive attitude, pleasant kind watchful words, can transform & heal us.
Wonder why Catholics honor saints the way they do? To celebrate their lives and learn from the truth and become the miracle they can do. My mom faithfully honored St. Anthony, patron saint of lost and missing things, who helped her always find what she was looking for. Miracles followed Anthony's life and he is known as the giver of the poor, helper of the oppressed, and is patron saint of American Indians, animals, fishermen, harvests, lost articles, pregnant women, poor people, and travelers. In Portugal and Brazil he is known as the marriage saint, his feast celebrated the day after Brazil's Valentine's day in June, and celebrated the same day in Lisbon. In Boston's North End they come together the last Sunday in August for the "Feast of all feasts" to honor St. Anthony. I lived in San Antonio and Anthony's mission is there, and in downtown San Francisco and many other communities feeding poor people everyday. Another St. Anthony, giver to the poor, appeared several centuries later and is patron saint of weavers and the press.
INSIGHT & UNDERSTANDING
I try not to use my own words here because it would assume I have wisdom, when I'm just a student like everyone else. I'll let the timeless words of Solomon and the inspiration of the Savior speak.
One of the messages in Proverbs tells us to keep a cheerful heart. Our attitude colors our personality and focuses our disposition. We cannot always choose what happens to us but we can choose our attitude towards each situation we face by filling our thoughts with the good things of life. To get the right attitude we must focus on monitoring and changing our thoughts. Solomon's Proverbs can give insight to our foolish thoughts and help us to understand the value of wisdom.
Solomon is a man of intuition who could discern the true nature of a situation. He is taught by his father David that wisdom is supreme and his mother Bathsheba to maintain discretion, and your lips shall preserve knowledge. Solomon understood "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5
"Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
The wise in heart are called discerning,
and pleasant words promote instruction.
Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it,
but folly brings punishment to fools.
A wise man's heart guides his mouth,
and his lips promote instruction.
Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
Proverbs 16: 20-24
"Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Luke 24:45-47
Here is the resurrection body. Ashes, dust and bones shall all transform into flesh and bones of human form with ghost-like qualities. When Jesus opened their minds to understanding the Scriptures he is giving all of us the message of understanding the good news of salvation and tells these witnesses they will be clothed with power from on high. He amazes them all on this day when he suddenly shows up alive and appears in the same room behind locked doors, and they're frightened and troubled at seeing the ghost. Jesus shows them his hands and feet and tells them, "Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." They still did not believe it; they were startled, amazed, full of doubts in their minds, and the teacher asks "Do you have anything here to eat?" They give him a piece of broiled fish and he eats it in their presence. "Peace be with you".
Before we look at Solomon's insight and understanding, we need to know how to think, control our speech habits, and seek to encourage with truth what edifies the spirit in each other, to be wise in what we say and know when silence is best. What we say probably affects people more often than any other action we take. Solomon wrote Proverbs that give special attention to words and how they are used. They show us a path of wisdom that can avoid calamity and foolish motives that are perpetrated through gossip, slander, quick-tempered words, curses and lies. What we say shows our real attitude toward others. How we communicate reveals who we are. To be wise in what we say, we must have self-control, be honest, and choose our words carefully, without hearsay or put-downs, with discernment and kindness.
Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights along the way,
where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
beside the gates leading into the city,
at the entrance, she cries aloud:
"To you O men, I call out;
I raise my voice to all mankind.
You who are simple, gain prudence;
you are who are foolish, gain understanding.
Listen, for I have worthy things to say;
I open my lips to speak what is right.
My mouth speaks what is true,
for my lips detest wickedness.
All the words of my mouth are just;
none of them is crooked or perverse.
To the discerning all of them are right;
they are faultless to those who have knowledge.
Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,
for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her."
The words of wisdom are Solomon's, plain words, full of grace and courage, a proclamation of truth, in poetic personification, a comprehensive conception of wisdom. Understanding the spiritual battle, on grass and ground, by audible sound, in lonely paths, in the forests and fields, along rivers and streams, in the towns and the cities, in traffic and public places, at the gates, over the hills and bridges, in the air with a breeze, wisdom can foresee eternity and shows a path through liberty, acceptable and irresistible by the good and honest heart, true in every age, with a childlike approach to learning. Be more ready to receive than to give counsel. Know the value of reserve and when to stop talking, and be heard.
Our worst fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are we not to be?
You are a child of God; your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are born to make manifest the glory of God.
It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
I am watching a Phil Lesh & Friends show streaming on the web, thenI am reading this passage from the Bible right after Phil & Friends finish their Saturday night show in Las Vegas. It's Paul's farewell message to the Corinthians (2COR13:11-14):
"Farewell. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all."
According to Strong's Concordance of the Bible, the meaning of the word communion in the ancient language of the Scriptures, is "partnership, participation, social intercourse, communication, or pecuniary benefaction, communion, distribution, fellowship."
Phil & friends return after midnight for the encore, "Amazing Grace", and "Box Of Rain".
WHEN THE SAINTS COME MARCHING THROUGH:
St. Wolfgang - October 31st
St. Wolfgang from Germany, was unafraid and tricked the devil into helping him build a church. This tenth century bishop is known for his episcopal dress, with an axe in his right hand and the crozier in the left, or as a hermit in the wilderness discovered by a hunter. He became a monk and the Bishop of Regensburg. He is the patron saint of carpenters and wood carvers.
SOLOMON & THE QUEEN OF SHEBA
"When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon's fame, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. Arriving with a great caravan-with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones-she came to Solomon and talked with him about all she had on her mind."
"Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning
and even among fools she lets herself be known.
(But in the heart of fools she is not known)"
In the age of Solomon, the Queen of Sheba has heard of him and what he can do, and she gathers a caravan and embarks on a sojourn into the long night. It culminates in their meeting, brought to life in Handel's Oratorio, or the painting of the "Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba" by Claude Lorrain or Pedro Calderón de la Barca's play based on the legend of the True Cross, and the royal pair grandiose:
"Sheba and Solomon seem to be as one;
of genius and beauty she's a divine prodigy,
and he a human miracle of glory and wisdom,
so that in upholding glory and prudence
the twain seem as one.
She in the lands of the East holds the sun in sway,
as he in the climes of the South keeps a more extensive realm,
so that in offering honor with honor,
The twain seem as one."
Solomon and The Queen of Sheba are a study of fame. Their fame carries on through history and we find their stories are legend in plays, in music, in art, frescos, blocks, books, even novels where people picture in their mind the characteristics of these two. They are talked about through the generations. Jesus mentions them in timeless lessons. Fame travels long distances. It travels at appreciable expense. Travel is swift and difficult to track. It can serve great and useful ends. The fame of a person or some exploit spreads and travels to those who love to hear and tell of the novelty. The fame that has spread so far to the end of the world is the fame of wisdom. This mental vision painted Solomon as the Socrates of his time. It wasn't just the vastness of his wealth or the splendor of his architecture of the temple and palace, his kingdom and credibility, political and merchant alliances, but his knowledge of natural history, his amazing Proverbs, ability to solve riddles and judge hard questions. The Queen of Sheba with an ear to hear, a discerning, instinctive, selective, discriminating ear, has the earnest inquiry of a critical thinker. She is willing to devote the time, expend labor, a great company of followers, courtiers and servants, endure fatigue, exercise long patience, trusting in the facts of the fame of Solomon, in her quest for human completion, searching for Wisdom. Her quest is truly spiritual. Her hard questions for him are deep seated about religion and life, told from the heart, for some things are a mystery in her mind, and her doubts are removed by Solomon, her anxieties calmed, her questions answered, as a new transformation takes place, embodied in love, with an admiration for her teacher that is sincere and intense. She brings him new and exciting spices of unsurpassed excellence, jewels, gold, honor, and he opens her eyes to a new world she has not experienced before.
From "The Wisdom of Solomon" he tells us: "Who searches for Wisdom shall find her:
Brilliant and unfading is Wisdom,
And easily is she beheld of them that love her;
And she is found of them that seek her.
She forestalls them that desire (her),
being made known beforehand.
He who rises early for her shall not (have to) toil,
For he shall find her sitting at his gates.
For to have her in mind is perfect understanding,
And he that wakes for her will quickly be free from care.
For she herself goes about seeking them who are worthy of her,
And in their paths appear graciously unto them.
For the true beginning of her is the desire for instruction,
And the care for instruction is love,
And love is the observance of her laws,
And the heeding of laws is the assurance of incorruption,
And incorruption is the means of coming near to God;
Thus, the desire for Wisdom leads unto a kingdom."
In the heart of the prudent rests wisdom and will teach all the unlearned. "The heart of fools is in their mouth; but the mouth of the wise is in their heart." There is a time to keep silence as well as a time to speak.
WHEN THE SAINTS COME MARCHING THROUGH:
St. Vincent de Paul - September 27th
"Strive to live content in the midst of those things that cause your discontent. Free your mind from all that troubles you, God will take care of things. You will be unable to make haste in this [choice] without, so to speak, grieving the heart of God, because he sees that you do not honor him sufficiently with holy trust. Trust in him, I beg you, and you will have the fulfillment of what your heart desires" -St. Vincent de Paul."
St. Vincent de Paul worked among the poor in the smaller towns and villages in France. He is a champion of the poor today. He was a man of great compassion who worked for the spiritual and physical relief of the poor and sick in the nineteenth century and ransomed over 1200 galley slaves from North Africa. He grew up a hard and rough person transformed by tender love for humanity to be sensitive and caring to the needs of others. His work for those who need help most continues daily in the social services, kitchens and pantries, and stores where they turn charitable donations into practical solutions to help many people survive. St. Vincent de Paul's name will always be remembered in the example he set for us.
St. Larry & his companions - September 28th
St. Lawrence Ruiz , known as Lorenzo in the Philippines, was born in
Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he
learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom
he served as altar boy and became a professional calligrapher,
transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He married and had two
sons and a daughter. His life took an abrupt turn when he was falsely
accused of murder.
At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan and with them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Larry, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan.
In Japan. 1636, they were arrested and taken to Nagasaki 's "Mountain of Martyrs" and persecuted for being Christians. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or martyred and many subjected to unspeakable torture.
St. Michael, St. Gabriel, & St. Raphael - September 29th
There are many stories of angels in the Bible yet only these three, Archangels, are named
Each of these archangels performs a different mission in Scripture: Michael protects; Gabriel announces; Raphael guides in love relationships, health and healing, and restoration of family and fortune. Earlier belief that inexplicable events were due to the actions of spiritual beings has given way to a scientific world-view and a different sense of cause and effect. Yet believers still experience God's protection, communication and guidance in ways which defy description, supernatural, by immortal beings.
St. Jerome - September 30th
Jerome was a strong, outspoken man. He had the virtues and the unpleasant fruits of being a fearless critic and all the usual moral problems of a man. He was, as someone has said, no admirer of moderation whether in virtue or against evil. He was swift to anger, but also swift to feel remorse, even more severe on his own shortcomings than on those of others. He was a scholar who sometimes wrote with a sarcastic pen. He was known as a mystic who spent five years in the desert, in prayer and study, and moved to Bethlehem and lived in the cave believed to have been the birthplace of Jesus Christ. On this date in 420 Jerome died there.
"In the remotest part of a wild and stony desert, burnt up with the heat of the scorching sun, so that it frightens even the monks that inhabit it, I seemed to myself to be in the midst of the delights and crowds of Rome. In this exile and prison to which for the fear of hell I had voluntarily condemned myself, I many times imagined myself witnessing the dancing of the Roman maidens as if I had been in the midst of them: In my cold body and in my parched-up flesh, which seemed dead before its death, passion was able to live. Alone with this enemy, I threw myself in spirit at the feet of Jesus, watering them with my tears, and I tamed my flesh by fasting whole weeks. I am not ashamed to disclose my temptations, but I grieve that I am not now what I then was" -St. Jerome
St. Francis of Assisi - October 4th
His prayers are poems for us to recite. His canticle of songs are plays to act out and sing. He is an bright example of the expression of LOVE found in his work and life. Phil Lesh quotes a poster for The Solstice Festival in his book "Searching For The Sound" with the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi that kicked off the Summer of Love":
"Lord make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred. let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so
much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life."
"How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!"
--1Kings 10: 8
"The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men know the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words."
The Queen of Sheba, identified with her land, and some call her Sheba. Balqis has made a long journey from Marib (originally Mariaba), between the Red Sea and the Arabian desert, the southern end of the world then, to pursue a noble, earnest, restless search for the truth. She has grateful respect, and an open, understanding, student spirit in the presence of the wise-hearted ruler. The joyous satisfaction of being in the same room as him is energetic and influential. There is entertainment, music and dancing, spiritual insight, with light covering the darkness. There is pardon in peace, forgiveness in love, truth in wisdom, strength in joy, oh happy day!
"God alone is the giver of wisdom", understands Solomon, "but to me may God grant to speak according to (His) mind, and to conceive worthy thoughts concerning the things that have been given (unto me); for He is the guide even of Wisdom, and the director of the wise. For in His hand are both we and our words, and all understanding and knowledge of crafts. For He Himself gave me unerring knowledge of existing things, to know the constitution of the world and the working of the elements, the beginning and end and middle of times, the alternations of the solstices and the changes of seasons, the circuits of the years and the positions of the stars, the natures of living creatures and the raging of wild beasts, the powers of spirits and the reasoning of men, the diversities of plants and the virtues of roots. Both things hidden and things manifest I learned (to understand); for she that is the artificer of all, (namely) Wisdom, taught me."
There is a philosophy that is beyond our power of comprehension. True wisdom comes by the Spirit and it's not fashioned by time. Great works of God around us have a certain freshness and immortality, the mystery of creation, the flow of the rivers, surging of the sea, thunder on the mountain, the course of the seasons, the splendor of the sun, and the brilliant bright sparkle of the stars, are the same now as when they observed them. We can learn a lot from nature around us in the world's reflections, from lessons handed from generation to generation, and from Wisdom abiding within herself we are renewed.
"When the queen of Sheba saw the wisdom of Solomon, as well as the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, the cupbearers in their robes and the offerings in the ascent he made at the temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed."
The Queen of Sheba is a witness to the truth of the splendor, magnificent opulence, and love surrounding King Solomon, and this unique custom of offerings made at this magnanimous temple built for the Lord. The architecture in the king's palace is awesome and amazing, and the passageway, between the palace on Zion and the temple on mount Moriah, is a bridge of grandeur, an arched viaduct with five arches sixty feet wide and a hundred and thirty feet high. She ate at the king's table, better than the best in any town. So many high officials and attendants left a resplendent impression in her mind, and she sees beyond Solomon's wealth and power to his transcendent wisdom. His wisdom has been revealed through his Proverbs and riddles and sayings, and actions in his court, his judgments recorded. The queen of Sheba is believable in her transformation and the effect she has on Solomon we see through his writing. The admiration she feels for Solomon is sincere and intense. The attending spirit within her recognizes her expectations have been exceeded, and she languishes in this moment, covers her feeble side, swoons as the tunes of the instruments play music in the background.
The nature of Wisdom, Solomon says "is more mobile than any motion. For there is in her a spirit of understanding, holy, sole-born, manifold, subtle, lucid, unpolluted, clear, inviolable, loving goodness, keen, unhindered, beneficent."
There has been much speculation in the novels and dramas written about Solomon and Sheba. There is a romantic inference and as such an inspiration for his writing Song of Songs. Wisdom is Solomon's bride, and the descriptions of her beauty surpassing "more excellent", and his mentions of spices, to guard thoroughly, protect and preserve her, points to the queen of Sheba, embodies reason for his wisdom, as much as God being the source of it. The queen of Sheba's departure will influence Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, when he writes about The Preacher.
"And she gave the king 120 talents of gold, large quantities of spice, and precious stones. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon."
--1Kings 10: 10
Solomon tells us in Proverbs 17:16, "Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?" Because he sought wisdom rather than worldly things, wealth, fame and honor, were given to Solomon by the Lord. The true meaning of money is that of means to ends. When the heart is set right, opportunities always present themselves. The fool is blind to life's meaning, wasting what he has instead of grasping opportunity within reach. The wise one makes the most of the best one can. The wise one sets himself up to cultivate what is there no matter how little there is to work with, makes use of the talents one has, reads books to expand one's horizons however limited one's library may be, the wise person uses what's there and does not neglect duties at hand or obsess over what is out of reach.
The Queen of Sheba endures a very long trip not fearing the hazards she may face, including robbers along the way, to seek a pearl of great price, wisdom and the truth, and brings to King Solomon many generous gifts including gold and jewels, and rare spices he needed, and other things not found in his homeland or the extended world known to him. Spices have a sweet odor and are used for cosmetics, medicine and healing, and food, and this was a tremendous gift the king received. Her munificence is unparalleled as no one in this land has ever seen such an abundance of real sweetness.
Solomon talks wisely about money in several passages in Proverbs. In 11:24-25 he tells us "One man gives freely, yet gains even more; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." If we would understand the paradox, that rather than hold onto as much as possible or focus any worry on money, when we give freely, and it can be our time, possessions and energy as well as money, God blesses and supplies us with more and there's is joy in true giving. Rich people who are prudent are benevolent.
"Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on his throne as king to rule for the Lord your God."
Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, as she is known in Ethiopia, is from the south, of Africa, or western Arabia, by the Red Sea. She is the bridge to understanding the Judaic laws interacting with the Islamic and their influence on Ethiopian and Christian culture. She realizes that God embraces all of us and God's love is eternal and shapes our destiny in life, "He has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness." she says to Solomon. She is humbled to learn from his wisdom. He is in awe of all she has to give. She is like the Magi following a star to Bethlehem to witness the birth of a future king wiser than them, and they show up with gifts of gold and spices. The fame of Solomon has spread to her land and she courageously sets out on a long and arduous trip with gifts of gold and spices, following a star seeking someone wiser than her. It is the road of adventure. Town after town, night after night, this first world wide tour begins. It's a hard trip with magnificent purpose. She is royalty crawling, like liberty on the back of a terrapin, hoisted on a carriage platform, with a caravan of camels come to meet Solomon's horses and donkey. Makeda is smart, beautiful, ornamental, courageous and a seeker of truth.
Solomon's wisdom comes at a young age after praying to God. Solomon builds the greatest ,most elaborate temple ever to God to house the same ten commandments we follow today. Solomon tells us " I believe God wants us to have a place to look towards, a place where we know he hears our prayers. The people of Israel have built this temple as the dwelling place for the God most high and as a resting place for this holy ark of the covenant. It is fitting that the laws given to Moses, by the Lord God himself, should be kept in his house forever. Grant Lord God that we keep your laws and please you in all that we do both from this day and forevermore. I pray you look kindly on this place and make it a house of prayer for all nations and all people."
"She said to the king, 'The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe what they said until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half the greatness of your wisdom was told me; you have far exceeded the report I heard.'"
The Queen of Sheba came a long distance about three thousand years ago to visit the King in Jerusalem, Solomon, famous for his wisdom. She is courageous, familiar with the camel trading routes, and made the trip in about three years, accompanied by a cast of many. She is accomplished as ruler in her own land which encompasses Ethiopia. She is queen of the south, queen of the ends of the earth, queen of the scene. She is spiritual, knowledgeable, and this queen and the King know how to test each other. She worships the sun and moon, honors the stars, is a priestess in harmony with nature and is so swayed and overcome with passion for wisdom that she understands how universal God is and Solomon's connection. He's the son of David, and though they are imperfect as humans are, King Solomon and Sheba, as Balkis the queen is known, are the perfect duo who complement each other. Solomon could have any woman in the kingdom and had hundreds of wives but the beauty of Balkis is astounding, dark and radiant, braided hair and sparkling jewels, and they both are attracted to each other in a challenging way. Sheba is virtuous, spiritually inclined and a seeker of truth. They trade information and knowledge and are romantically linked in local gossip, acting like the two main characters in a series. He's not gonna conquer her in a one night stand.
Jesus is a descendant of Solomon and one day addresses the Pharisees and teachers of the law who ask him for a miraculous sign and he answers in Matthew 12 that those who repented, hearing the preaching of Jonah, and Sheba, "the Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here." She is worthy to judge the hypocrites, those masquerading as God's compatriots, these doubters, unbelievers, unrepentant, with cold minds and closed hearts. Sheba is full of faith and zeal and as a seeker of truth knows it when she finds it. She recognizes the truth about God when Solomon presents it to her, unlike these religious leaders of Jesus' generation who ignore the truth staring them in the face. She came from the uttermost parts of the earth. Rising up, this is the energy Sheba evokes. Getting up and looking forward to hear the wisdom of Solomon and not just a curiosity to see him! This is what Jesus is communicating about her. Solomon is a prophet listened to by a Gentile nation. His wisdom drew inquirers from the ends of the earth.
"Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. So that your trust may be in the Lord, I teach you today, even you. Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge, teaching you true and reliable words, so that you can give sound answers to him who sent you?"
"The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. All a man's ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the lord than sacrifice."
--Proverbs 22: 17-21; Proverbs 21:1-3
Incline your ear to listen to the sound, around the sight in focus, mind attentive to the sayings of the wise, apply these in your heart to know their good, and keep all pleasant things within thee, in mind and memory, and put your confidence in the Lord this day. Discover the fresh clear path that leads to understanding Divine truth.
"Pay attention!" "Listen!" he says to the wind, words of life that enable you, exhort you, strengthen you. Thirty sayings of beauty, of poetry with rhythm, evocative, emotional, clinging with light, calm, patient, flowing, going, growing, looking, connecting, changing, transforming, evolving into the natural fountain of wisdom and beauty. Solomon is tapped in to the Divine mind, stays in touch with the neighborhood men, and speaks with common sense, making fair judgments with knowledge and understanding, a royal king, equestrian, troubadour, architect, eloquent and artistic, creative in his literary responsibility.
There is Providence in human purpose. A guiding hand to hold our heart, happy inside where love cannot hide! As streams of water ripple and flow, courses of canals and trenches as rivers of life over the land, God made nature in harmony and balance.
Even we can be blinded by our own motives pondering our doings and plans and God weighs the intent of the heart, and paying attention, we can become enlightened by his holy Word.
God is pleased when we do right and speak the truth and worship in spirit. Equity and justice proceed from the golden rule of love. The one great work of Solomon's life was the erection of the great temple where sacrifices were offered to the Lord. Solomon understood the context of ceremony in the chambers of the heart. Samuel shares this view declaring in firm and powerful language, "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice ..." His father David is also filled with a deep sense of worship as he humbles his soul before God, his Strength, singing praises, recognizing his fortress is his loving God.
The heart of the powerful is in the hand of the Lord. We should always have hope that when we seek to "move the hand which moves the universe" and "turns the hearts of kings whithersoever" he will. As water springs he knows the courses.
The Queen of Sheba begins to understand her mission, and her destiny falls into place as she sees the hand of God directing the prudence of Solomon. Apply the teachings in your heart ready to speak them.
"There was never a king like Solomon
Not since the world began
Yet Solomon talked to a butterfly
As a man would talk to a man"
"As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name-for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm-when he comes and prays before this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I built bears your Name."
--1Kings 8: 41-43
This is the way Solomon prayed. He has built the great temple and he becomes a testimony and example, kindly, human, helping, interceding on other's behalf, he empathizes with those in need and suffering among his people, and takes on the burden through prayer, more paternal than royal. The model king is one in heart and interest with those over whom he rules. Here the king prays more broadly pleading for "the stranger, the foreigner from a far country". In the Pentateuch, the Bible of their time, they were commanded not to "vex a stranger" but to "relieve his poverty" even to love him as God loves him. Numbers 15:16 says "One law and one manner shall be for you and for the stranger that sojourns with you." Solomon gave expression to the spirit of this dispensation when he thus prayed, "He is the God of the whole earth".
Solomon lived in a palace of gold. He had the power to move nations. He had great wealth, good health, unbelievable abundance, riches and fame, but these were not the things Solomon sought the most. He wanted wisdom and understanding, and God grants his wish and his mind is transformed with knowledge, common compassion and sense, spiritual insight, a keen mind, heart to God, and in tune with all of nature. He is calm in the sight of bees, learned to build with trees, watches the caterpillar change and approaches the butterfly with "Thank you" and "Please!", and sets his sights on the birds' flight and stars at night.
The Queen of Sheba is Arabic, and she is found in the Bible and in the Koran, and this is a time when Israel prospered, under the rule of King Solomon, befriending the nations to the farthest end of the earth, and they found mutual ground, something in common, honored their differences, loved the experience of the great things they were witnessing, got along as distant neighbors on one world, unraveled the babble, and began to understand the common kindness that is sown in us as love, and the reaping of salvation reaching within.
Solomon had great influence among the nations and in commerce. The Queen of Sheba came as a seeker, and with tremendous insight, marvels at Solomon witnessing to God's power and love for his people. The good times show God's love and faithfulness, but difficult times come to believers too, and we persevere with hope, steadfast in our love and faith. We can apply many of Solomon's lessons in our lives and his wisdom speaks to us in the Word preserved for us today.
"King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. All the kings of the earth sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart."
--2Chronicles 9: 22-23
Solomon's wisdom is Divinely inspired. Balkis, the queen of Sheba, follows Solomon's fame seeking an audience with him to test him with hard questions and he responds with quick, versatile, innovative, natural examples, framed in light with "an understanding heart to judge the people and discern between good and evil." There is no hesitation in him for he is spiritually blessed with greater knowledge and deep understanding and insight. Wisdom is the power that discerns and utilizes the innermost truth of things, finds and practically applies whatever is essentially Divine. Solomon expresses this wisdom in many ways, including books, literary compositions, through history and science, and architectural undertakings. Proverbial is the Book of Proverbs. Poetic are his songs and psalms. Socratic, by question and answer, are like riddles-"dark sayings" and the interpretation thereof. The Queen of Sheba communes with him and shares what's in her heart. She remains amazed that all she has heard about Solomon's achievements and wisdom are true, exceeding all expectations she had, and her eyes are full of wonder at the splendor she beheld. Solomon's accomplishments and tales of his wisdom spread abroad through all countries and his fame attracts kings and queens to his court to hear his oracular insight, as well as to gaze upon his grandeur.
"When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan-with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold and precious stones-she came to Solomon and talked with him about all she had on her mind. Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her....She said to the king, 'This report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.' "
Solomon is in his young thirties, famous for his wisdom and wit, his lavish wealth, his songs and wives. Much has been written about Balkis the Queen of Sheba, Queen of the South. They believed she came from the southernmost point of the then known world. She came to Jerusalem and hung out with Solomon. He's the wealthiest in the extreme sense, good-looking, who had the best of the best and most of the gold yet these were not the things he had sought. When God offered him a gift of his choosing he chose knowledge and wisdom and he was transformed into the wisest of all and these other blessings followed him. How many of you, given a wish for anything in the world, would ask for wisdom? Solomon's fame traveled the commercial world and the Queen of Sheba arrives in Jerusalem with gifts and caravans of followers and is greeted by a cart of Solomon's wives. Some of what's written about the Queen of Sheba is man's speculation but the truth of who she is can be found in the Bible and she is drawn to Solomon spiritually like a story from the Bible, and it would be an awesome study listening to Solomon's commentary. Balkis is different from his other visitors. She brings him gifts of things he has never seen, spices he is smelling for the first time; she is royalty seeking true wisdom and in awe of the magnified magnificent Solomon.