Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Proverbs 20 - Various Proverbs

LINK: Proverbs 20

by Katrina

BACKGROUND
This chapter is a collection of Solomon's proverbs. They don't follow a particular theme but give wisdom on many topics - drunkenness, quarrelsomeness, laziness, righteous living, knowledge, honesty, gossip, etc.

REFLECTION/APPLICATION
Can you think of a "real life" example of any of these proverbs? I think it would be fun if many of you shared your own experiences or observations of these proverbs. Just click on "comments" at the bottom of this post, and you'll see a box to type your thoughts in. I'll do a couple here.

Proverbs 20:14 "Bad, bad," says the buyer; but when he goes his way, then he boasts."

I saw this (and participated in it) in Cambodia. When you go to the market in many Eastern countries, there are no set prices on anything. You must come to an agreement with the seller on a price. If a buyer expresses interest in an item, the seller will give him a very high price for it. Once the buyer makes a counter offer (usually very low), the haggling begins. The seller points out all the best qualities of his product to justify a price higher than the buyer suggests, but the buyer points out all the negative traits of the product and keeps suggesting lower prices than the seller. The buyer keeps raising his price, while the seller lowers his. Eventually, the buyer and seller come to an agreed price somewhere in the middle, and the buyer walks away boasting about the great bargain he got.

This is not to be confused with dishonest business practices. Proverbs 20:10 says, "Differing weights and differing measures, both of them are abominable to the LORD." This type of deceit is frequently referred to in scripture. Cheating a buyer or seller by dishonest weighing or measuring (skimming a little off the top, for example) is not just a "little white lie" but an abomination. It is a very serious offense against the individual and against God. God hates dishonesty, even so-called "slight" dishonesty!

PRAYER
Lord, teach us to be wise in your wisdom, not the wisdom of man. Let us examine what we do in our day-to-day practices and transactions and endeavor to be wholly upright before you. Amen.

Monday, March 30, 2009

2 Chronicles 9 - Solomon's Pride

LINK: 2 Chronicles 9

Parallel Passage: 1 Kings 10-11

BACKGROUND
Here is Solomon, the wisest man on earth - having been given special wisdom from God - acting foolishly! He, himself, wrote about the futility of seeking riches (Prov 11:4; 23:4-5; Eccl 5:10-20), and he must have known the foolishness of displaying them to strangers. He knew God commanded Israel's kings not to collect large numbers of horses or go to Egypt for horses (Deut 17:16). To do so was to trust in horses and chariots rather than to trust in God. Solomon wrote about the foolishness of trusting oneself rather than God (Prov 28:26). He also knew that marrying foreign wives was forbidden, as was increasing riches for himself (Deut 17:17) . Yet he broke all these rules. Why? How come the wisest of the wise behaved so foolishly?

It all comes down to the heart. Solomon allowed his pride to override the wisdom God had given him. He was proud of heart, so he showed off his wealth to the Queen of Sheba. Because of pride, he accumulated great wealth, many wives, and a large number of horses. His "image" before man was more important than his obedience to God. He listened to his foreign wives and began to worship foreign gods. Little by little, Solomon became more proud and turned his heart away from God.

REFLECTION
God and pride cannot reside in the same place. Our pride is in itself a form of idolatry, pushing God aside, worshiping ourselves. God is a jealous God, not wanting to share our praise with anyone or anything else, even ourselves.

As believers, we don't set out to become proud idolaters. But pride is a part of our human nature; it takes no work to develop it. If we aren't careful, idolatry and foolishness in our hearts will enlarge as we make little compromises on a day-to-day basis. We justify a little thing until it becomes comfortable and grows. If our hearts are not fully devoted to the Lord, then those little "undevoted" parts can become larger and eventually take over our hearts.

APPLICATION
Just this past week, the Lord pointed out to me an area of pride in my heart, and Psalm 73 became my prayer of confession to God.

Examine your own heart. What pride do you take in yourself where credit should be given to God? What "little things" are you compromising on? Are you starting down a slippery slope of sin? If you find yourself justifying anything, it's probably something you need to confess as sin before God (yeah, I've done the justifying thing; that's why I recognize it).

PRAYER
Meditate on Romans 12:1-2 and 1 Peter 1:13-16 and let these passages of scripture lead you in prayer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

1 Chronicles 29 - Worship

LINK: 1 Chronicles 29

by Katrina

BACKGROUND
David, as well as the rulers of Israel, gave gold, silver, brass, iron, and precious stones for the temple. They gave with great rejoicing and happy hearts. David then led the assembly in worship and declared the next day a day of celebration.

This chapter (and book) concludes with David's death and Solomon being anointed king over all Israel.

REFLECTION/APPLICATION/PRAYER
David gives us a wonderful example of worship in this chapter. Take some time today to read meditatively through verses 10-19, worshiping God along with David. You can take David's words and personalize them to make your own prayer of worship. Enjoy worshiping God today!

Monday, March 23, 2009

1 Chronicles 28 - David's Instructions for the Temple

LINK: 1 Chronicles 28

by Katrina

BACKGROUND
Although David desired to build a permanent home for the ark of the covenant, God did not allow him to do it. Instead, God chose Solomon to build the temple. As David neared death, making arrangements for the building of the temple became extremely important to him. He gathered all the leaders of Israel together and gave these instructions in chapters 28 and 29.
  • David established Solomon as his successor to the throne.
  • He charged Solomon with the task of building the temple.
  • David presented plans and materials for building the temple.
  • He worshiped God (in chap 29).
Remember that this book was written to (and most likely read aloud to) the returning exiles who were preparing to rebuild the temple hundreds of years later. By recording the encouragement David gave to Solomon and the people of his time, the chronicler is encouraging another generation. They will not be able to duplicate the splendor of Solomon's temple, but the detailed descriptions would have been very meaningful to them.

REFLECTION
I think David delivered these instructions to Solomon and all of Israel with a great deal of passion. His heart's desire was to build that temple, and as I read this chapter, I could see David's passion for God. He urged Solomon to serve God with a whole heart and a willing mind. David told his son to seek God and never forsake him (v 9). David also exhorted Solomon to be strong, be courageous, take action. Don't let the size of the task dismay you. He assured his son that God would not allow the "project" to fail (v 10, 20).

APPLICATION
Do you have a passionate heart for God? Do you continue to seek him? Do you obey his commands? Do you believe his promises and act on them, being strong and courageous?

PRAYER
Lord, thank you for choosing me to be yours. Strengthen my heart's desire for you. I want to serve you with a whole heart and a willing mind, never forsaking you. Give me courage to obey you, even in tough situations. And let me be a part of your work in building your church, encouraging others in the faith and faithfully sharing your word. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

1 Chronicles 20-21 - God's Amazing Mercy

LINK: 1 Chronicles 20-21
Parallel passage - 2 Samuel 24

BACKGROUND
Chapter 20 - This chapter continues with the battles described in yesterday's reading. The chronicler leaves out the account of David's adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah. Those events occurred in the spring when David stayed at Jerusalem (20:1).

Chapter 21 - Satan shows up as an adversary again, and God allows him to tempt David (remember Job?). David fell to the temptation to number the warriors, even though Joab advised him against it. Why was this census sinful?

It seems that David had an attitude of pride. He was numbering the warriors for the value to his own ego. David may have had other plans of what to do with the information once it was gathered, but they aren't revealed in these accounts. The act of numbering the people was not the problem; it was the motive behind the act that brought guilt on David.

To me, the amazing thing in this event is how much God allowed David to see. He saw the spiritual and physical effects of his sin on the people.

David's actions had drastic consequences. God is a just God. But David did seek the Lord and repented, and God did relent in the end. God is a merciful God. David trusted the mercy of God and knew he could depend on it. He wasn't so sure he could depend on the mercy of man. That's why he said in verse 13, "Let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great. But do not let me fall into the hand of man."

REFLECTION
Mercy. God's mercy. All the wrath of God that I deserve is withheld from me by his mercy. He chooses not to destroy and condemn me only because of his mercy. He is patient with me, loves me, and forgives me because of his mercy.

APPLICATION
Spend some time today reflecting on the mercy of God and thanking him, oh so very much, for it!

PRAYER
This I recall to my mind. Therefore I have hope. Through your mercies, Lord, I am not consumed, because your compassion does not fail. Your mercies are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness!

(adapted from Lamentations 3:21-23)

Monday, March 16, 2009

1 Chronicles 18-19 - Godly Battles

LINK:1 Chronicles 18-19
Parallel Passage: 2 Samuel 8-10
Psalm 60

BACKGROUND
Chapters 18-20 tell of wars David fought in order to regain and protect the land of Israel.

The Philistines were to the west and had been attacking Israel every chance they got.

The Moabites were to the east and became enemies of Israel when they hired Balaam to curse them. Before that time, they had lived in peace with each other. The Moabites were related to the Jews because they were descended from Lot. And David's great-grandmother Ruth was a Moabite.

To the north, in the area of the Euphrates, were the Arameans and Syrians. Once David subdued them, they paid tribute and were servants to David.

Edom was to the south, as were the Amalekites. Edomites were descendants of Esau and longtime enemies of Israel. The Amalekites were supposed to have been destroyed by Saul.

We already covered Psalm 60 last year, but I included the link as a parallel passage, because this psalm was written by David during the battles described in 1 Chronicles 18 (and 2 Samuel 8). It's neat to read it again in light of its historical context.

REFLECTION
Battles! War! These chapters are all about fighting. Yet, the Lord helped David in these battles. Why would God want people to fight? and even help them?

Acquiring these lands helped to fulfill God's promises of what Israel's boundaries would be. This was land that the Lord had promised to his people. Some of it was land that had been lost under Saul's reign, and some of it was land that had never been claimed since Joshua led the Israelites into the land. God was fulfilling his promises to Israel.

David's military action also led to a time of peace and safety for the nation of Israel. God gave him rest on all sides. Now God's people could live normal lives without the constant threat of invasion. They could be about God's business. God was providing peace to Israel.

And, speaking of God's business, many of the riches that David's armies brought back from battle went into the treasury for the temple that Solomon would build. God was providing materials for the temple.

APPLICATION
The Church today is not a military organization. Yet there is spiritual territory that we can be claiming for the Lord, just as David claimed physical territory. God has provided peace to us, and we should be about God's business. Are you fighting the spiritual battles for your faith and the faith of others? Are you claiming the promises God has given you and acting boldly to see them come to completion? Are you living by faith and obedience to Christ? These are the fights we must fight as believers.

PRAYER
Father, teach us to fight the good fight, to grow in our faith, to keep the faith. Let us pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness in service to you and guard the faith you have given us. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

1 Chronicles 16:23-43 & Psalm 96 - More Praise!

LINK: 1 Chronicles 16:23-43 & Psalm 96 (The text for Psalm 96 is below)

BACKGROUND

The praise continues! Then all the people say "Amen" and "Praise the LORD." David leaves, but Asaph and the other Levites ministered before the ark "continually."

David leaves Zadok & co. before the tabernacle at Gibeon even though the tabernacle is now in Jerusalem where Abiathar is the high priest. Eventually, they will be reunited in a new temple, but we will have to wait until Solomon's reign to see that happen. For the time being, Israel has two worship centers and two high priests (15:11). We do not know the origin of Gibeon as the site of the tabernacle, but it must have been sanctioned by God because of the appointment of Zadok and later Solomon will offer sacrifices there with God's approval (1 Kings 3:4-10).

APPLICATION & PRAYER

Praise and Sing to God through Psalm 96 and envision ALL the peoples praising God! Then, tell others about Him!


Sing to the Lord a new song;
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
Tell of His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.

For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before Him,
Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory of His name;
Bring an offering and come into His courts.
Worship the Lord in holy attire;
Tremble before Him, all the earth.

Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns;
Indeed, the aworld is firmly established, it will not be moved;
He will judge the peoples with equity.”
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
Let the sea roar, and all it contains;
Let the field exult, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy
Before the Lord, for He is coming,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
And the peoples in His faithfulness.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

1 Chronicles 12 - People Behind the King

LINK: 1 Chronicles 12
Parallel passage - 2 Samuel 1-5

BACKGROUND
The first part of this chapter lists men who helped David in war before he was king over all of Israel. Beginning in verse 23, the author lists the names of leaders and numbers of warriors from the various tribes who helped establish David as king following the death of Saul. They had to keep Saul's family from claiming the throne. The struggle for the throne is described in 2 Samuel 1-5. The author of Chronicles is presenting his condensed version, focusing more on the people involved than the historical events of the time.

KEEP READING!

Monday, March 9, 2009

1 Chronicles 11 - David's Mighty Men

by Katrina

LINK: 1 Chronicles 11
parallel passage 2 Samuel 23

BACKGROUND
The rest of 1 Chronicles is a review of David's reign as King over Israel. The author focuses more on spiritual aspects of David's life and omits his sin with Bathsheba.

In chapter 11 we have a list of David's "mighty men" and some of their feats. David began gathering men around him when he was on the run from Saul and continued through his reign.

There are three men in the first list.

  • Jashobeam (also called Josheb-Basshebeth and Adino) - chief of the captains in David's army
  • Eleazar fought against the Philistines. While many soldiers retreated, he continued fighting until he couldn't unwrap his hand from his sword.
  • Shammah fought against the Philistines and won with the help of the Lord, while everyone else ran away in fear.
There is another group of three whose names aren't given. During a battle, David expressed his desire to drink from the well in Bethlehem, and these three men traveled twelve miles, crossed enemy lines to get water from the well for him. When they presented the water to David, he didn't see just water in the cup, but saw the blood of the men who risked their lives to get it for him. He poured the water out as an offering to the Lord.

Next are two men - Abishai and Benaiah. Abishai was David's nephew, as well as the brother of Joab and Asahel. When Abner killed Asahel, Joab and Abishai avenged the death by killing Abner. Abishai also offered to kill Saul for David and to kill Shimei when he cursed David.

Benaiah's major feats are recorded here. He fought valiantly and was loyal to the house of David. He supported Solomon's succession to the throne, and Solomon made Benaiah the head of his army.

The remainder of the chapter lists the 30 mighty men. I'll comment on just one of them. Uriah the Hittite was the husband of Bathsheba. It is tragic that David had one of his very best warriors murdered in an effort to cover up his own sin. The account of those events can be found in 2 Samuel 11.


REFLECTION
David's story is told in great detail in scripture. It is told in 2 Samuel and again here in 1 Chronicles. But David didn't win all his battles and accomplish great things and build up a nation by himself. The Lord is often given credit for accomplishing his work throught David. But in this chapter, the men who helped David the most are recognized for their efforts. No man can be a great leader by himself. He has to have supporters behind him. He has to have valiant warriors and wise advisors.

APPLICATION
Most of us have not been placed by God in a position of great leadership in the church. However, we can be strong supporters of those who are. Are you a valiant warrior for the gospel? Do you support the work of your local church? Are you an active participant or just a bystander? Let's fight the good fight and finish well.

PRAYER
Lord, help us to be valiant warriors for you, so that one day you will say to us, "Well, done, my good and faithful servant." In the name of Jesus, amen.


Monday, March 2, 2009

1 Chronicles 1-8 (Monday - Thursday)

LINKS:
Monday's reading - 1 Chronicles 1 & 1 Chronicles 2
Tuesday's reading - 1 Chronicles 3 & 1 Chronicles 4
Wednesday's reading - 1 Chronicles 5 & 1 Chronicles 6
Thursday's reading - 1 Chronicles 7 & 1 Chronicles 8

BACKGROUND ON THE BOOK OF 1 CHRONICLES:

The books of 1&2 Chronicles were originally one book. The Hebrew title means "the words (or affairs) of the days." The chronicles cover history from Adam to the decree of Cyrus which allowed Jews to return to Israel from Babylonian exile.

1 Chronicles is parallel to the book of 2 Samuel. The first nine chapters cover the genealogies from Adam to David and the events leading up to Saul's death. After Saul's death, David became king, and the rest of 1 Chronicles covers events during his reign.

It is commonly held that Ezra wrote the Chronicles, compiling information from several sources. He frequently mentions "the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel" in his writing. This is not the biblical books of Kings, but some other record book.

Ezra's audience was the group of exiles who were returning to Palestine around 458 B.C. You may remember from our reading of the book of Ezra that he was very concerned about the spiritual foundation of the returning exiles. By writing Chronicles, Ezra gave a condensed version of the history of Israel to the people. He focused on racial and religious purity, the law, the temple, and the priesthood. He wanted the people to understand their rich heritage and the blessings they had through their covenant relationship with God.

Here's a summary of the genealogies at the beginning of this book.

* Adam to Abraham (1:1-27)
* Abraham to to Jacob (1:28-54)
* Jacob to David (chap 2)
* David to the captivity (chap 3)
* Genealogies of each of the tribes (chapters 4-8)
  1. Judah (4:1-23)
  2. Simeon (4:24-43)
  3. Reuben (5:1-10)
  4. Gad (5:11-22)
  5. Manasseh (5:23-26)
  6. Levi (chapter 6)
  7. Issachar (7:1-5)
  8. Benjamin (7:6-12)
  9. Naphtali (7:13)
  10. Manasseh (7:14-19)
  11. Ephraim (7:20-29)
  12. Asher (7:30-40)
  13. Benjamin (chapter 8)
REFLECTION/APPLICATION
Sometimes it's good to stop and take stock of where we came from. It helps us to get our bearings, so we can move ahead on the right path. In these chapters, Ezra was making sure the people understood their heritage as God's chosen people. Take some time to reflect on your heritage as a child of God.

PRAYER
Father, thank you for calling me out of darkness into your marvelous light! You have taken me along a path toward holiness. Thank you for each trial and victory you have brought into my life along the way. Guide me as I seek to follow you with all of my life and being. In the name of Jesus, amen.