Friday, February 24, 2012

1 Chronicles 24 & 25 with Psalm 88 - Everybody in Their Place

LINK: 1 Chronicles 24 & 25  with Psalm 88

BACKGROUND


After David had appointed Solomon as the king, he wanted to make sure that the temple was organized in every way. Organization and preparation glorifies God!!! David was a gifted administrator. In 1 Chronicles 23, he organized the Levites. In 1 Chronicles 24, he organized the priests. In 1 Chronicles 25, he organized the temple singers. David wanted to be sure that everything in God's house would be done "decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:40). David and the two priests made these decisions by drawing lots. This was the same process Joshua used when the land was divided up between the twelve tribes of Israel (Joshua 14:2; 23:4).

A key phrase throughout these chapters is: "for the service of the house of the Lord" (or similar phrase).

NOTE: The population of Israel had grown quite large. Therefore, there were many more priests than the number needed in the temple. So, the priests were divided into 24 lots with each group serving for a two week period each year. They were also "on call" for the feasts. We will see an example of this when we learn about Zacharias (John the Baptist's dad) in Luke 1!

REFLECTION

Rebekah, a woman I am discipling, is trying to help a woman she is discipling get some direction about where God would have her serve. She does not really know her gifts and how she would serve for God's glory. I remember taking Rebekah through a similar process of discovery in 2005 that has really helped her to find a place in the Body of Christ that is fruitful AND fulfilling. Because she has a better idea of God's place for her, she is better able to discern when she should step into projects and when she should say no.

I wish we had someone like David to organize us! (Organization can be a godly thing and does not have to be the opposite of "going with the Spirit's leading," by the way.) The ministers in the temple knew their ministry. Some were priests, some were temple servants, some were musicians, and some were singers. Everyone had a place. I wish it were so clear for us!

That is why I love taking people, like Rebekah and this other woman, through the process of discovering how God has uniquely designed them to glorify Himself.

APPLICATION

Do you know your place in ministry? I have mentioned the SHAPE process in previous posts, but here is a nice website that can help you with the process:

SHAPE Profile

Sometimes, it is nice to do this with other people though. So, if your church has a SHAPE class, you might want to join it. If you are local, I am happy to do it with your group!

PRAYER

Lord, thank You that You ordered everything for the temple. Help us to know our place in Your kingdom. Lead us for Your glory. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Since Heman is mentioned in this chapter, I have included a Psalm written by him in your reading today. 

LINK: Psalm 88

BACKGROUND

This is a new author in the book of Psalms: Heman. We read about him in 1 Chronicles 15:19; 16:41-42; 25:1, 6. He was a singer who sounded aloud the trumpets, lyres, harps, and cymbals of bronze along with Asaph, another author in this book. What talent!

This psalm is often called one of the saddest psalms in the whole Psalter. It is a petition to be saved from death and is the heart's cry of one who has suffered constantly. Most psalmists express hopeful expectation of God's deliverance after they pour out their heart but not this one. The psalter wants the Lord of His salvation to deliver him from death because he is unable to declare His glory if he is dead (88:1, 9b-12).

This poem is written in a Hebrew structure of three four-line stanzas (88:3-5, 6-9a, 9b-12) surrounded by two two-line prayers. Appended to this is an additional four-line stanza in which the psalmist summarizes that his present troubled condition is one he has had his whole life.

REFLECTION

This sounds so much like the story of Job; but even Job had a good life before and after his affliction. This poor guy sounds like things have always been really bad. My heart aches for him.

Heman suffered intensely, but He still continued to pray to the "God of [his] salvation." Many people turn their back on God when things go wrong. 

We recently watched a Mark Twain documentary by Ken Burns. After the death of one of his family members, the scholars said, "Twain ceased to believe in a benevolent God." While I have compassion for Mark Twain's loss, I do not understand that sort of mentality. The reality is that life is not always happy and without sorrow and always involves loss, but it does not mean that our God has forsaken us nor ceased to be a benevolent God.

We can learn so much from Heman's psalm when our lives are filled with overwhelming sorrow. Here is a summary of what we can learn that is adapted from Be Worshipful by Warren Wiersbe:
Come to the Lord by Faith (vv. 1-2) Heman comes to the "God of [his] salvation" and continues to address Him as His LORD throughout his prayer (vv. 1,9,13,14). Weirsbe says, "No matter how we feel and no matter how impossible our circumstances, we can always come to the Lord with our burdens." 
Tell the Lord How You Feel (vv. 3-9) - Heman didn't sugar-coat it. Life was hard, and he was completely transparent with the Lord about his problems. We can be this way with God. It is not disrespectful to do so. Pour out your heart! 
Defend Your Cause Before the Lord (vv. 10-14) Hemen's argument is that his death will rob God of an opportunity to demonstrate His power and glory. He couldn't serve God in death. Could he? Keep praying transparently to God and pleading your case before Him. 
Wait for the Lord's Answer (vv. 15-18) - This guy's pain was like Job's only more prolonged! He continued to wait and pray though. What an example of perseverance! Persevere in your trial, dear friend. God is good and will hear your pleas in the darkest times of life. 
Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
 (Job 13:5)

I would have despaired unless 
I had believed that  
I would see the goodness of the Lord 
In the land of the living. 
Wait for the Lord; 
Be strong, and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord. 
(Psalm 27:13-14)

APPLICATION

If you are struggling, come to Him, tell Him how you really feel, defend your cause, and wait for His answer. You might even want to pray responsively through Psalm 88. Ask others to pray for you too.

PRAYER

Lord, You are the God of our salvation, and we worship You in our struggle. We acknowledge that You are good and know what is best for us. Sometimes we do not understand why You have allowed us to struggle, but we trust in Your unfailing love. Help us to be strong through the sorrowful, struggling seasons of our life and to wait on Your perfect timing for deliverance. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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