Archive for August, 2013

1 Kings 9-11

Today’s reading begins with the LORD appearing to Solomon a second time and concludes with the death of Solomon.

Although Solomon was blessed greatly by God with wisdom so great that no one before or after him could attain to it, Solomon’s life was filled with folly and he eventually grew cold towards the things of the LORD. In Chapter 11 of 2 Chronicles we read that Solomon greatly loved numerous foreign women. These women were from nations that the LORD instructed the people of Israel not to marry. Not only did Solomon take one wife from among these nations that the LORD knew would draw the hearts of His people away from Him, Solomon married many women from these people groups. Solomon had a total of 700 wives and 300 concubines and as the text states, these wives turned his heart away from the LORD.

How could a person so blessed by the LORD be so foolish as to violate the commands of the LORD? I think it speaks to exactly what the LORD warned the people of Israel about, that when the LORD had blessed the people with homes, and vineyards, and land that they would take their ease and stray from the Him. As Solomon saw fit to abandon his devotion to the LORD, the LORD saw fit to allow Solomon to experience the consequences of those decisions in addition to experiencing the anger of the LORD.

Although the LORD never took the kingdom away from Solomon, He soon would take it away from David’s house, and the kingdom would soon dissolve.


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1 Kings 7-8

Today’s reading begins with Solomon building his palace and concludes with the sacrifices that Solomon offered up at the consecration of the temple.

David had been prevented from building a temple for the LORD because of the sheer amount of bloodshed that had come about because of his actions as a king. Although some of the acts committed by David were evil, a great deal of the bloodshed the occurred under his watch was the purposes of defending and expanding the kingdom of Israel.

David had made provision for a temple for the LORD prior to his death, but the task came to Solomon to make a place of worship to the LORD that was suitable and honored his greatness and holiness. The temple took seven years to build and the amount of wealth, time, and effort that was placed into its construction was staggering.

Obviously, I’m quite partial to the Word of God. There’s a reason that I read the Bible and one of those primary reasons is because I love Him and want to know more about him. So this is obviously coming from a biased point of view, but Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the temple of the LORD is magnificent. I truly love it. In this prayer, Solomon gives glory to God for all of his great works; honoring Him for his mercies to the Israelites. In addition to honoring the LORD with his prayer, Solomon also asks of the LORD a great number of items. The point behind each of them is that Solomon knows that the people of Israel will stray and that it will only be by God’s grace that the nation will be sustained.

Solomon’s final plea to the LORD is this: “Let your eyes be open to the plea of your servant and to the plea of your people Israel, giving ear to them whenever they call to you. For you separated them from among all the peoples of the earth to be your heritage, as you declared through Moses your servant, when you brought our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord GOD.” 2 Chronicles 8:52-53 (ESV)

May God’s eyes and ears always be open to our pleas when we call upon Him.

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1 Kings 3-6

Today’s reading begins with Solomon’s request for wisdom and concludes with the building of the temple of the LORD.

David had been a great ruler for Israel. He expanded the kingdom and though his time in power was not without controversy and upheaval, he left a stable kingdom for his son Solomon. David had wanted to build a temple for the LORD to replace the Tabernacle that the people of Israel had used as the place of worship for the LORD during their time of wandering in the desert, but the LORD refused him this privilege. As a result of David’s battles and struggles, the LORD did not want the king with bloodstained hands building him a temple. As such, although David worked to make provision for a grand temple, it fell to Solomon to build it.

Solomon understood that as a man he lacked the wisdom to rule over Israel and that the task ahead of him was great. So in one of his first interactions with the LORD upon his taking control of the throne of Israel, Solomon asked of the LORD great wisdom so that he could be an adequate king for the LORD’s people. In response to Solomon’s request, the LORD said this:

“Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” 1 Kings 3:11-14 (ESV)

Solomon was humbled by the task ahead of him and instead of asking for things that he thought he may need or want to accomplish the task at hand, he asked that the LORD grant him understanding. I for one typically don’t ask for understanding when faced with a challenge, I usually ask for something or that God would do something. As many times as I’ve read and been told of Solomon’s request, I still haven’t let it sink in that allowing God to do the work and simply asking for his understanding and how best to proceed is the best possible course of action and wins the favor of the LORD in the events to follow. Maybe I can start having that attitude. Maybe my asking for things instead of wisdom is a big component in troubles that I face in life.

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1 Kings 2

Today’s reading begins with David’s final instructions to Solomon before his death and concludes with Solomon being established as the sole monarch of Israel.

When the time of David’s rule over Israel was coming to an end there was a struggle for the throne of the kingdom of Israel. David’s son Adonijah had claimed the kingdom for himself, but the LORD had instructed that Solomon would be the heir to the throne after David. The decision that Adonijah made to claim the kingdom for himself quickly turned sour and Adonijah soon realized that he would be ousted.

This is where the text takes a twisted turn. In return for relinquishing the throne of Israel, Adonijah requested of David’s wife and Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba that she ask Solomon to grant him in marriage Abishag the Shunnamite. Abishag was David’s nurse in the waning years of his life. She tended to his needs and slept in his bed with him. It’s made explicit in the text that David never had sexual relations with Abishag, but regardless, one can imagine that this platonic relationship was an intimate one.

Bathsheba complied with Adonijah’s request and came before Solomon and asked that Abishag be given in marriage to Adonijah. This greatly angered Solomon and certainly with Adonijah’s presumption of the throne combined with this act of gross disrespect prompted Solomon to put a permanent end to Adonijah’s treachery against the throne. Solomon called upon Benaiah the commander of the armies of Israel and had Adonijah put to death.

The battle for the throne was a brief one and Solomon was now free to rule.

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2 Samuel 23-1 Kings 1

Today’s reading starts with David’s last speech to the Israelites and concludes with the battle for the throne of Israel shortly before the death of David.

Under David’s rule the kingdom of Israel had grown and prospered. David had been successful in his military campaigns and conflicts with surrounding nations were becoming fewer and farther between. For whatever reason the text of this passage mentions that the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people of Israel. The reason for the LORD’s anger isn’t made clear, but as a result, the text states that the LORD incited David against the people of Israel and David called for a census of the armies of Israel.

David’s commander Joab realized that not trusting the LORD and taking a census of the fighting men was an unfaithful action that the LORD would be displeased with, but David insisted and so Joab did as he was told. After taking the census, David realized his breach of faith against the LORD and confessed his sin to Him. At this time the prophet Gad came to David and told him that the LORD intended to punish him for his lack of faith and that David would have the choice of one of three consequences: three years of famine, three months of defeat against his enemies, or three days of pestilence throughout Israel.

David’s response again spoke to his trust in the grace and mercy of the LORD. He told Gad that it was his desire that the LORD bring pestilence on the land of Israel because he reasoned, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of men.” 2 Samuel 24:14 ESV

In response, the LORD sent pestilence throughout all the land of Israel and a total of 70,000 people died as a result. The angel of the LORD was just about to strike Jerusalem when the LORD interceded and stopped the angel from bringing the pestilence into the city. An interesting statement is made at this point in the text: “And the angel of the LORD by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, ‘Behold, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father’s house.'” 2 Samuel 24:16c-17

It’s not clear how David knew the location of the angel of the LORD, but the pestilence ceased at that time.  In response, David bought the threshing floor of Araunah and the oxen he had to make a burnt offering to the LORD on an altar to be constructed at that place. Araunah was more than willing to give David all that he needed, but again, David shows his fear for the holiness of the LORD: “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” 2 Samuel 24:24a  So David bought the threshing floor of Araunah, built an altar there and sacrificed to the LORD. At that time, the LORD ceased the plague against the people.

David’s life is always held up as an example of the attitude should be evident in the lives of those who come into a relationship with God. Certainly, David was a sinful man. From a human standpoint, David committed greater sin that you or I are capable of committing, and yet God holds him up as the example for us in our relationship with God. The legalistic mindset of me and many others ought to be changed by such grace and favor in the face of such grave immorality. I don’t know what that looks like, but it’s definitely worthy of greater understanding.

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I’m still behind on this mission…

Well, if you’ve been reading my posts on this journey through the Bible in a year, you’ve noticed that the posts have been fewer and farther between as of late. I went through and caught up with all of my draft posts so I now know how far behind I am: 30 posts.

There’s always excuses for these types of things, but it is my goal to catch up and stay on track. Basically what that means is you may have a lot of reading to do in the next few weeks. So stick with me and we’ll get through this.

Thanks for reading.

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2 Samuel 21-22

Today’s reading begins with David avenging the Gibeonites and concludes with David’s song of deliverance.

This passage exemplifies the brutality of the Old Testament and is likely out of step with most people’s concept of God. Israel under David’s rule is going through a three year famine and David seeks out the LORD to find the cause. Even though King Saul has been dead for a number of years, God is exacting a price on Israel for the evil that Saul visited on the Gibeonites.

The Gibeonites had tricked the people of Israel into sparing them at the time that the Israelites were conquering the Promised Land. Saul however had broken the covenant that Israel had made with the Gibeonites and put many of them to death. After David had been told by the LORD that the prevailing famine was a result of God’s bloodguilt on Israel for the violation of the covenant with the Gibeonites, he went to the Gibeonites and asked them what he could do make atonement for Saul’s actions.

The Gibeonites asked of David the lives of seven of Saul’s sons. David gave the Gibeonites seven of Saul’s sons, specifically sparing Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth because of David’s covenant with Jonathan. The Gibeonites took the seven sons of Saul and hung them together. After the Gibeonites had executed Saul’s sons, David took the bodies of Saul and Jonathan and buried them. After this, God relented of the famine that he had put in place against Israel.

This passage runs so contrary to most people’s impressions of God when viewed through the lens of Christ’s compassion and forgiveness. I think what so often isn’t stressed or maybe even swept under the rug is that God is holy. He is completely just. He is completely righteous. Certainly God has mercy and grace for the most callous of sinners but He doesn’t back away from holding us to account. Not only is God calling Saul to account posthumously, He is punishing the entire country of Israel for the actions that Saul had taken against the Gibeonites. The consequences of the actions of the leader of the nation  were being visited on the entire nation.

If you’re only reading the New Testament, if you’re only reading about Jesus and His great acts of mercy, grace, compassion and forgiveness then you’re only getting a glimpse of God.

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