King David holds sway over Odd Fellowship, much as King Solomon, David’s son, holds sway over Freemasonry. David is represented in both our Initiatory and First Degrees.
In the Initiatory Degree, many believe the Warden plays the role of King David. Others believe the Warden is simply the archetypal wise man. He is old, hard of hearing and nearly blind. He is full of wisdom and warning. He says “I have been young and now (I) am old, but never have I seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread.”
Let’s pull this statement apart. First the Warden indicates he has lived in the ancient past, lives in the current moment, and perhaps has always lived and may always live.
He is an elder among ancients. He has witnessed the grandeur and immense unfolding of universal space followed by incalculable time.
The Warden’s statement is taken from the 37th Psalm, written by King David. In this particular Psalm, King David is drawing a comparison between those who are wicked and those who do right by the Great Architect of the Universe. In the 37th Psalm, King David instructs us not to envy the outward success of the wicked because their success is short lived. The 37th Psalm speaks to human perseverance and to universal ultimate justice and that those who follow the universal laws of the Great Architect will have better lives.
By “better lives” I’m not saying your life will be better than another person’s. Living isn’t a contest “to run over another person’s life so mine can be better.” If that’s how you think, perhaps being an Odd Fellow is not for you. In the lodge, we don’t believe in the classifications of society. But, by following the universal laws laid out by the Great Architect, your personal life can be better than it might have been otherwise.
But, here’s a difficult part: we don’t know who the wicked are. Ritual says: “…people are not always to be taken for what they appear.” We may think we know the wicked, but only the Great Architect knows for sure. We don’t always know who the good people are either–again only the Great Architect knows.
The eye of the Great Architect sees into every human thought or action, then creates an automatic balanced response to it. This is a law of the universe. The universal law we’re concerned with is “cause and effect,” sometimes mystically known as the law of consequences or law of compensation.
If a person judges someone as “wicked,” the same universal law comes into play using another phrase: “judge not…” The eye of the Architect will see you’ve judged, and “BAM!,” the phrase “…that you be not judged” becomes a not so pleasant issue for you. This unpleasant result may occur immediately or at some point in the future, but rest assured that according to ancient doctrine, it will occur.
The Great Architect set laws in motion, universal laws, which govern the operation of creation.
Here’s another statement that aligns with Psalms 37 from Galatians VI (King James Version): “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap.” We can compare the word “soweth” in Galatians to the word “seed” in Psalms. We can compare the word “reap” in Galatians with the word “bread” in Psalms.
Here is a another observation about the word “seed” from the Psalms: A seed is not just a reference to children. It is also a reference to one’s works. It could be your home business, paying bills on time, treating others with respect even though you disagree with them. A “seed” is anything you start. Further, it is anything you think.
So, we have to be careful about how we look at others. How we think of others. How we think about ourselves. The Warden has given us his warning.
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“The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) will not discriminate against any individual on the basis of disability, age [other than that of minimum to join the Order (lodge, club or group)], ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or other social identity.” Resolution No. 5, Code of Laws
Scott Moye is a member of Marshall Lodge #1, Marshall, Arkansas. He likes craft beer, carnivals, is a historian, folk musician, ex-farmer, and museum worker. He is a founder of Heart In Hand Blog.