Formations 04.03.2016: Questions that Make a Difference

1 Kings 2:1-4, 10-12; 3:5-14

Ferdinand Bol, "David's dying charge to Solomon", 1643, oil on canvas (Wikimedia Commons).

Ferdinand Bol, “David’s dying charge to Solomon”, 1643, oil on canvas (Wikimedia Commons).

Growing up, Lisa Gross was fed traditional Korean food cooked by her grandmother, who came to America from Korea with Gross’s mother in the 1970s. Every time Gross would come into the kitchen while her grandmother cooked, she was sent back out to do her homework and study. According to her grandmother, “Studying is more important.”

Gross’s grandmother recognized that her children and grandchildren could potentially have more access to opportunities that she never had. She was determined to make sure they were never hindered from those opportunities, so she encouraged them to work hard and study and learn as much as they could. She didn’t want her daughter and granddaughter to spend their time doing the things which have historically been an obligation for women, and which have allowed women less time to learn skills that could help them support themselves and have a successful future. Lisa Gross was grateful for her grandmother’s guidance and support.

However, Gross remarks, her grandmother’s determination also meant that she and her mother never learned how to cook traditional Korean food from someone with real experience. Gross’s grandmother had been cooking these dishes for decades—she was an expert who knew all the tricks and shortcuts. When she was no longer there, how was Gross supposed to know what to do? How could she celebrate and remember her culture without these important dishes? This especially mattered to Gross when she started cooking for herself as a young adult. She was educated, she was smart, and she had the skills to teach herself, but she had never learned the techniques and methods that she says can “make the difference between something that’s good and something that’s exceptional”.

Gross’s questions led her to found The League of Kitchens. It’s a series of cooking workshops that allow immigrants to teach others how to cook traditional dishes from their home countries. Women from Uzbekistan, Greece, Trinidad, and other countries around the world welcome strangers into their kitchens to cook meals and share their cultures. Many of them have been cooking the same dishes and using the same techniques for decades, so it’s not always instinctive for them to talk while they cook or explain what they’re doing. All of the cooking experts take classes themselves so they can be even better cooking teachers and share their knowledge with others.

These workshops didn’t only answer Gross’s questions about how to cook Korean food. The League of Kitchens also brings people together who would never have met, much less shared a meal.

Solomon is lucky in that he is able to gain instruction from his father before it’s too late. At the same time, David’s words to his son before dying are kind of like a complicated (and somewhat vague) recipe. In theory, Solomon just needs to follow the instructions, and all will be well. But Solomon is young and inexperienced, and he wants to do something exceptional with his leadership. The Scripture text this week will focus on how he sought and used discernment.

Lynn Rosetta Kasper, “In the kitchens of immigrants, learning to cook” <>.


• Have you ever had a mentor? How has a mentor helped guide you through an experience in your life?
• Where do you usually turn for advice?
• We are surrounded by people with different life experiences. What can we learn from others? What questions should we ask?

Reference Shelf

David’s Divided Advice to His Son

This extended chapter marks the transition of power from father David to son Solomon, reporting David’s death and Solomon’s ruthless consolidation of royal power. The chapter divides into David’s speech of counsel to his son and Solomon’s actions that only party correspond to David’s counsel, between which is the terse notice of David’s death.

David’s speech is a characteristic farewell address placed on the lips of a dying person, a speech that is a legacy remembered and treasured (2:1-9; compare the farewell speech of Samuel, 1 Sam 12:1-25). The most interesting aspect of this speech on the lips of the old king is the clear incongruity between vv. 1-4 and vv. 5-9. In vv. 1-4, David’s speech is a presentation of Torah theology reflective of the book of Deuteronomy. The opening imperatives of vv. 2-3 echo the imperatives given to Joshua in Joshua 1:6-7. The phrasing appears to be military, but it is used to urge devotion to the Torah as the explicit will of Yahweh. The charge speaks of the “Torah of Moses,” likely referring to the book of Deuteronomy. The little connecting phrase “so that” links obedience to Torah and prosperity. This tradition teaches that obedience to Torah is the requirement and condition that makes prosperity possible.

Walter Breuggemann, 1 & 2 Kings, Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary (Macon GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2000), 25-26.

Michelle Meredith is a graduate of Mercer University, where she was the editor for literary and arts magazine The Dulcimer. She taught third and fourth grade in Mississippi for two years with Teach for America and became even more obsessed with live music and southern food (don’t even get her started on Delta tamales). She loves comedy, board games, roller derby, and hanging out with her dog. She is happy to be back in Macon, Georgia as the associate editor of Formations.


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