Archive for : May, 2018

05/31/2018 — 1 Kings Chapters 3 & 4

So, these chapters seem a paradox.  In Chapter 4 we read:

29 God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. 30 Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite—wiser than Heman, Kalkol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations.

But even with all this wisdom we will see Solomon default into practices the Lord abhorred.  Early in his reign we see in Chapter 3:  Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. 

We will see more details of this idolatry as we read further in Kings.  It certainly appears that unlike his father, David, (who certainly was not faultless) Solomon never had the most important character trait of David — being a man “after God’s own heart.”

My hope is that as we read through the details of Solomon’s reign we keep in focus several things:   (1) Solomon did not build his empire or make preparation for the temple – he inherited them (2)  The innumerable ways Solomon was blessed by the Lord  (3)  Even with this blessing he was responsible for obeying the Lord and his own actions (free will)

 

05/30/2018 — Psalm 119

No doubt everyone recognizes this as being the longest Psalm and as being an “acrostic.” —  On the complexity of construction Coffman writes: Psalms 119 is an acrostic to end all acrostics! There are twenty-two strophes (paragraphs), corresponding to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each of the strophes has eight lines (verses), and every one of the lines in each strophe begins with the appropriate Hebrew letter marking that stanza. The first eight lines begin with ALEPH, the second eight with BETH, and so on throughout the 176 lines of the Psalm.

But what is the theme of this Psalm?  As you read there is no surprise that the highlight of each paragraph is the importance of focusing on God’s word.  And the author uses multiple expressions of this focus.  A few are:

my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees; teach me your decrees; I will obey your word; set my heart on your laws; follow your decrees; your laws are good; I long for your precepts; put my hope in your laws; sought out your precepts; do not turn from your law; decrees are the theme of my song; turned my steps to your statutes; believe in your commands; you law is my delight; meditate on your precepts; do not forget your decrees; you law is my delight; gain understanding from your precepts; word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path; statutes are my heritage; regard for your decrees; statutes are forever right; meditate on your promises;

If we ever doubt the gift of having the complete and full Work of God — just read one of these paragraphs and be blessed …

 

05/29/2018 — 1 Kings Chapters 1-2; and Psalms 37, 71, 94

When I read a book sometimes I come to an event that I just do not like & wish there was an alternate text.   I felt that way when I read:

1 Kings 1: 7 Adonijah conferred with Joab son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest, and they gave him their support.

Joab had been so loyal to David and at times a voice of conscious, even when he disagreed with David.   So I was disappointed to see him now align with Adonijah vs. David.  Why did he make this in my eye sad choice?

The commentator Barnes states:   Joab’s defection on this occasion, after his faithful adherence to David during the troubles caused by Absalom 2 Samuel 18:2-17, may be accounted for by his fear that Solomon would be a “man of rest” 1 Chronicles 22:9 and by his preference for the character of Adonijah. He may also have thought that Adonijah, as the eldest son 1 Kings 1:5, had almost a right to succeed.

And Coffman adds: The reason why Joab joined in this venture is not hard to discern. David had pronounced a curse upon him (2 Samuel 3:29); and, he, no doubt, hoped to avoid any ultimate punishment by supporting Adonijah.

 

05/28/2018 — Psalms Chapters 111-118

What marvelous songs of praise we read!  And I think the Holy Spirit even gives us a wonderful summary of them all in Psalm 117 (the shortest Psalm:)

Psalm 117

Praise the Lord, all you nations;
    extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
    and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

Praise the Lord.

 

 

05/27/2018 — 1 Chronicles 26-29; Psalm 127

I am amazed when look at the magnificence of the gifts that David, the rulers, and the people of Israel brought for the temple (over 300 tons of gold worth roughly  $12.6 billion dollars today.)

Then in 1 Chronicles 29 David reminds us of a point of humility:

14 “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. 15 We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. 16 Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you.

 

05/26/2018 — Psalms Chapters 131, 138-139, 143-145

As you saw, these are all Psalms of David and they are so beautifully worded that we could spend a day on each of them.  But I realize that Psalm 139 is one of Liz’s favorites and there is a section that caught my eye today.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

For me David has summarized the omniscience and omnipresence of God.   His word images are inspired.  I know that no matter where I may be, no matter my mood, no matter my situation the Lord is there.  And I am comforted …

05/25/2018 1 Chronicles Chapters 23-25

As usual we see the author (probably Ezra) add the details of the families that would now serve the Lord.  David has provided the preparations for the building of the Lord’s temple and now he “staffs” it.  I had not considered the reason for these new delineation of duties but Matthew Henry in his commentary points out that

The ark and tabernacle being now stationary at Jerusalem, the labor of the Levites was greatly diminished, as they were no longer obliged to transport its heavy furniture from place to place. The number of thirty-eight thousand Levites, exclusive of priests, was doubtless more than sufficient for the ordinary service of the tabernacle.

 

05/24/2018 — Psalms Chapters 108-110

OK, when I read Psalm 110:1 I realized that we need to “jump ahead” hundreds of years when we hear this passage repeated by Jesus when speaking to the Pharisees in Matt 22:41-46

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”  “The son of David,” they replied. 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, 44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:  “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies
 under your feet.” 45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions

This passage had confused me a bit (as it must have the Pharisees until I read several commentators, including Coffman who stated:

The implication of the Messiah being both the son and the Lord of David is clear enough. Christ is both God and man; as man, Christ descended through the earthly posterity of David, as indicated in the Genealogy give in Luke 3. Thus, in that sense, Christ was the “Son of David”; but, as God incarnate, he was also David’s Lord, and the Lord of all people.

 

 

 

05/23/2018 — 2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21-22; Psalm 30

The same episode is, again, described in both books.  And, indeed, we need to read both books to have a full understanding of the sin of David in ordering a census of Israel and Judah.

First, 2 Samuel 1 states: Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”

A logical question is if God “incited David” to take the census how could this be a sin against God?  For the answer we need to look at 2 Chronicles 21:1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.

Regarding the 2 Samuel statement Coffman writes that God always allows the triumph of man’s own free will; and, in doing so, what God thus allows is very properly said by the sacred writers to have been done by the Lord.

The other clarification I needed was why was taking a census sinful — had this not happened previously in scripture?   Many commentators felt that David’s ordering the census was performed with an intent of being boastful of what he had won militarily (neglecting the role of the Lord.)  Why it was wrong may not be clearly stated but the fact that it was wrong was clearly stated by Joab and later when David, himself, acknowledges his sin.

To me this is a clear example of how God sees into the heart and intentions of all of us.

 

05/22/18 — Psalms Chapters 95, 97-99

If you are like me I drop notes in the margin of my Bible if a particular sermon, teaching or commentary impacts me (many thanks to Artie, Randy, Buddy and the other men who have taught even before our arrival on the Cape.)

I have such notes beside each of the three uses of the English word “come” in Psalm 95: 1-7.  These notes cause me to reflect on the true nature of worship.

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;                                                                                      let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
    and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.

My notes say that each word for “come” is different in the Hebrew (I certainly cannot read Hebrew but did check a Hebrew reference and, indeed, each word is different.)

In verse 1, the Hebrew implies “come” as if inviting a friend into your home.

In verse 2 it is “come” with a bit of trepidation because we are entering into the very presence of the Lord God almighty.  In the Hebrew translation I read it even states: Let us greet His presence with thanksgiving.

In verse 4 the Hebrew implies come “fully into the presence of God.”

I think it is a terrific reminder of the attitude we should have as we enter our building for worship.  Our gathering for worship is special — we are not there for a social meeting — we are there to worship and give thanks to the very Creator of the universe.  Let us never forget how blessed we are …

05/21/2018 — 2 Samuel 22-23 and Psalm 57

In 2 Samuel 23:1 the author stated that these are the “Last words of David;” however they were not delivered on his death bed – they were just some of is last pronouncements.  And in Psalm 23:3-4 he, again, captures a magnificent word-picture that I wish more earthly leaders in the the worlds of business, politics, and other associations would apply:

The God of Israel spoke,
    the Rock of Israel said to me:
‘When one rules over people in righteousness,
    when he rules in the fear of God,
he is like the light of morning at sunrise
    on a cloudless morning,
like the brightness after rain
    that brings grass from the earth.’

05/20/2018 — Psalm Chapters 5, 38, 41-42

To me there are two Psalms we read that seem to be co-joined in emotion — Psalm 38 penned by David and Psalm 41 attributed to the Sons of Korah.

In Psalm 38 we see David in turmoil sadly expressing  the grief, pain, and afflictions caused by his sins. I know that I have felt the same when is have injured those around me with my actions.

Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath Your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down on me. Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.

Then, in Psalm 41  we have some of the most memorable word-pictures recorded in scripture on how we can overcome by earnestly seeking God:

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?

 

 

 

 

05/19/2018 — 2 Samuel Chapters 19-21

In reading these three chapters I did not have to read far to see a “life-lesson.”  We are all in need of an honest friend – one who loves us but who does not hesitate to correct and admonish their friend when it is needed.  We certainly see that man in Samuel 19:1-3 in the actions of Joab.  If you are like me you may have forgotten that not only is Joab david’s friend – he was also his cousin. And in verse 7 we see him give David advice that not only forced David out of his depression but may have saved the entire nation.

Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.”

David followed Joab’s advice and we see the restoration of a Nation as a result.

Thank God for honest and loving friends & family  …

 

 

 

05/18/2018 — Psalms Chapters 26, 40, 58, 61-62, 64

When we read these Psalm we see common threads — the most similar being David’s relying on God alone as his “rock” and for “his rest” (Psalm 62:2 & 5-6.)  What “jumped out” at me for this reading was perplexing at first:

From the NIV — Psalm 26:1 “Vindicate me, O Lord for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.” Isn’t the author David, who we know has sinned multiple times in his adultery with Bathsheba alone?

Coffman writes ” He does not claim perfection, but does contend that he has “walked in integrity.” He contrasts his life with those who are oppressing him, not by the absolute holiness of God (Kirkpatrick 1906, 137). He professes to have had a sincere heart. The author’s appeal to integrity does not presume a perfect life. Rather, it means a life of committed relationship of dependence on God alone and full participation in all the accepted means of restoration God offers.”2

While I do not usually refer to a “paraphrase” version of scripture  “The Message” translation seems to capture the essence of David’s plea.
1 Clear my name, God; I’ve kept an honest shop. I’ve thrown in my lot with you, God, and I’m not budging.
2 Examine me, God, from head to foot, order your battery of tests. Make sure I’m fit inside and out
3 So I never lose sight of your love, But keep in step with you, never missing a beat.

 

 

 

05/17/2018 — 2 Samuel Chapters 16-18

In these chapters we have so much military and political intrigue that it reminded me of an episode from the political thriller “House of Cards.”   I found reading the chapters captivating.  Two particular two points struck me:

  1. The details of Absolom’s plans to kill David and the advice of Ahithophel and Hushai are intensive.  However, the results of this planning and the future of Israel is summarized in one verse:   2 Samuel 17:14  Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom.   AS in some many of David’s victories Absolom’s defeat is the result that God willed.
  2. David’s sorry at Absolom’s death as detailed in 2 Samuel 18: 33    33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!

I reflect on a point — surely David was grieved by the death of his son.  But did now the full-weight of Nathan’s prophecy and the result of his sins involving Bathsheba settle upon him?

2 Samuel 12:11-12    11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’

05/16/2018 — Psalms 3-4, 12-13, 28, 55

As I read each of these Psalms I was taken that each seems to present a common theme.  Early in each of these Psalms David states his distress and his pleas for deliverance.  For example:  Psalm 3:1-2  Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!Many are saying of me,  “God will not deliver him.

Then, towards the end we see David praise God even in his duress:   Psalm 3:5-6   I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.

David sets an example in that he does not hesitate to express his disappointments, his fears, his trials to the Lord.  But he also recognizes that the Lord is his strength in all trails.

Finally, you probably saw that Psalm 3 was composed by David when he fled from his son, Absalom.  One commentator spoke to me when he wrote  “The events are recorded in 2 Samuel 15-18, but the heart is recorded in this Psalm.”



05/15/2018 — 2 Samuel Chapters 13-15

In sports there is often one play that will change the entire outcome of the game.   Often the play is a mistake (or error) by the losing team.  In 2 Samuel Chapters 11 and 12 we see Davis make a heinous mistake in his adultery with Bathsheba.  And we see David’s life totally change after this sin.  The tragic stories in 2 Samuel Chapters 12 and 13 are but the beginning of David’s downfall.

We are probably all familiar with the overall episode of Amnon’s rape of his half-sister, Tamar, and her brother’s, Absalom revenge.  But to understand the genealogical seriousness of Amnon’s sin we need to remember that at this point Amnon was the eldest of David’s sons and the heir to the throne of David!

So, David not only lost his oldest son but with Absalom’s fleeing to Geshur one of his favorite sons as well.

05/14/2018 — Psalms Chapters 32, 51, 86, 122

The developer of our readings certainly placed two of these Psalms, Psalm 32 and Psalm 51, in locations related to David’s multiple sins associated with his relation with Bathsheba.  And in both we can emotionally relate to Davids’ sorry and his praise.

On verse in particular is a “breath prayer” of mine when faced with temptation.  From Psalm 51:

 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me …

 

05/13/2018 — 2 Samuel Chapters 11-12 & 1 Chronicles 20

So, now do you see why our reading from Friday was so important?  David sent Joab  and all the king’s men to fight the Ammonites and to besiege  Rabbah.  But as recorded in 2 Samuel 11:1  “David remained in Jerusalem.

And from reading the rest of Chapters 11 and 12 we know the results of this decision — his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of a loyal soldier, Uriah, which occurred at the aforementioned siege of Rabbah.

Volumes have been written (and rightly so) about the impact of Davids relationship with Bathsheba.   But did you notice a major difference between the passages in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles?  Of course it is the reality that 1 Chronicles does not even mention the entire episode.  So, I had to ask myself why? (was Chronicles written by a friend of Davids or was the author deliberately “whitewashing” David’s reputation as we see often happen in writings on secular history?)

I believe that several commentators explained the difference well — and it relates to the purpose of the books.  Samuel and Kings both provide the in-depth history of the nation of Israel, including the faults and many calls to repentance of the people.

In contrast the purpose of the book of Chronicles is different.  Chronicles was written after the nation returned from Babylonian captivity.  The purpose is to highlight not the full history of the nation but the lineage of the nation and the full pathway to the restoration of all mankind through the line of David.

 

05/12/2018 — Psalm Chapters 65-67 & 69-70

As I often due when I do my Bible reading I will turn to a commentator or two to help me gain insight.  Another person’s perspective is quite useful.

Coffman highlights three points I have missed when I read Psalm 65:

There are three natural divisions of the psalm. (1) God is praised for his moral qualities (Psalms 65:1-5). (2) God is praised for his preparation of the earth as a dwelling place for mankind (Psalms 65:6-9). (3) God is praised for an abundant harvest (Psalms 65:10-13).

I re-read these verses after seeing the commentary and my insight into the power of God was enhanced even more.