I’ve finished Hauerwas’ commentary on Matthew and have turned to Peter Leithart’s work on 1 & 2 Kings. So far, so good. Even though I disagree with Leithart on some of the theological implications he draws at a few points, this is still an extremely rich theological commentary on 1 & 2 Kings, a book I’ve never really studied. I highly recommend it.
In chapter 4, we see Israel flourishing under the rule of Solomon, who is a new Adam for the Israelites as well as one who fulfills the rule of Joshua. In verse 4:20, we find the Israelites celebrating this reign, “Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea; they ate and drank and were happy (NRSV).” These activities, “eating, drinking, and rejoicing,” were the activities of the central sanctuary and of worship (p. 51), and they are also the joy we experience in Holy Communion.
In the next verses (4:22-23), we find a list that has no apparent connections with Eucharist on the surface,
“Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty cors of choice flour, and sixty cors of meal, 23 ten fat oxen, and twenty pasture-fed cattle, one hundred sheep, besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fatted fowl.
Yet Leithart brings out some very fascinating connections,
Solomon’s menu includes meat that is not part of Israel’s sacrificial feasting. Sacrificial animals represent Israel, while clean wild animals symbolize Gentile ‘God-fearers.’ As Gentile nations are incorporated into the body of Solomon’s kingdom, so ‘Gentile’ animals are incorporated into his physical body (p. 51).”
In this passage a simple list of seven animals prepared for Solomon’s table become a portrait of God’s table hospitality. “The Gentiles eat the crumbs that fall from his table, and this typifies the greater Solomon who sets up a table in the center of the world, one so abundant that it feeds humanity (p. 51).”
Next Sunday, most of us will celebrate Holy Communion. As we prepare for this gracious feast, let’s remember the Solomonic feast. It really seems to be a celebration of magnificent proportions. How much more then should those of us who worship the one greater than Solomon be involved in a glorious celebration. Even though we will remember the bitterness of the Passion, we shouldn’t forget the table we set is the table open to all people – a table of forgiveness, joy, hospitality, and grand celebration!
(graphic from adoremus.org)