Can you imagine a time in history when the blessings of God were so great that silver was accounted for nothing? The gold that was given and paid to Solomon was measured in “talents.” A talent was 100 pounds and would probably be worth over $5,000,000.00 today.
And it wasn’t just the monetary blessings, but the blessings of wisdom—so much so—that the Queen of Sheba would travel 1200 miles at a time when there were no jets, no trains, not even cars, only camels, horses and carts—just to see if it was true! Continue reading →
The description of the temple is beautiful and amazing to me. Many believe that, even now, preparations are being made to rebuild it, which Scripture tells us will happen as part of the events of the last days. At that time the Jews will resume temple worship.
What an exciting time in which we live. It’s quite possible that our generation will see the return of Jesus for His church (the Rapture) and certainly are, even now, seeing many of the events leading up to that time (Matt. 24.36). Continue reading →
Every time I read these passages I try to get my mind around what Solomon’s Temple must have been like! The love and care that went into every detail, the magnificence of it, the gold that was beaten into thin sheets and then gently hammered to fit over all the carved and embellished wood and stone so that everywhere you looked there was gold! The most beautiful things we build today with all our technology can’t match what it must have been like.
But, even with all the beauty and splendor, God was more interested in whether or not their lives reflected the beauty of God or the ugliness of sin. He warned Solomon that He would only dwell among them as long as they walked in His statutes and kept His commandments (vv. 6.11-13). He would eventually allow this magnificent temple to be burned and sacked because of their repeated sin and idolatry (2 Kings 25).
What beautiful things does He allow to be destroyed in our lives because of our unwillingness to love and obey Him? We often turn and blame Him when it’s actually a consequence of our rebellion.
He reigns forever
This psalm was probably part of David’s celebration when the Ark of the Covenant was brought back to Jerusalem, but it also looks forward to the day when Jesus will reign forever and all the world will worship Him.
Those who reward good with evil
Verse 13, “Whoever rewards evil for good, Evil will not depart from his house.” Romans 12.17 & 21 say, “Repay no one evil for evil” instead we are to “… overcome evil with good.” If we are not even to repay evil with evil, how much worse the judgment on someone who repays good with evil!
No one can snatch us out of His hand!
Verses 27-30 should give us great confidence in God’s sovereign control of our eternal lives.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”
If we truly belong to God, no one, not the devil nor anyone else can take that away from us. But the kind of saving faith that gives us that reassurance involves more than our just having prayed a prayer at some point. While it is true that we exercise saving faith through prayer, there is no magic in the words or the prayer itself. The prayer must involve true saving faith. A prayer merely spoken in response to outside pressure or the emotion of the moment does not necessarily constitute saving faith. We’ve all known people who “prayed a prayer” at some point, but have never displayed any life change.
Salvation is not a work. We can’t conjure up faith or do anything to save ourselves, but we’re all called to “examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13.5)—that is whether or not we have “unquestioning belief in and loyalty to God” and whether that faith has resulted in fruit. John the Baptist warned the religious people of his day to “bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Lk. 3.8).
What about you? Questions to ponder or journal:
Have you truly put your faith and trust in Christ and Christ alone? Have you come to the place where you realize you are a sinner in desperate need of a Savior and that nothing you do warrants eternal life? Have you confessed you sin to Him and received His free gift of forgiveness and salvation?
In chapter 3, God appears to Solomon in a dream and gives him a blank check to request anything he wants. Instead of wealth, or fame, or any material blessing, Solomon asks for wisdom to rule the kingdom.
God still invites us to ask for wisdom and gives it freely to those who do.
James 1.5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Have you ever wanted to go out into the mission field? or record a Christian hit song? or be a great Bible teacher? And instead, you find yourself cooking and cleaning and teaching Bible verses to preschoolers. What does God have to say about housewives and kingdom rewards?
In chapter 1 King David is dying. (Those of us who are married and getting older can be thankful for electric blankets, none of that “virgin heating” for our husbands! You’ll just have to read the passage!)
David’s oldest son, Adonijah tries to take control of the throne before his father is even dead. It’s obvious he knows that Solomon is the one who is to be king because he conveniently neglects to invite him to the “coronation.” But God in His sovereignty sees to it that his plan is revealed. Instead Solomon is crowned as king while his father is still alive.
A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps (Prov. 16.9).
A new king in town
Before he died David warned Solomon of some people to watch out for and gave him some last minute instructions, but Solomon, immediately, demonstrates a new style of leadership beginning with his response to his brother Adonijah (chap. 2).
Adonijah had committed treason and, even today, treason can result in the death penalty. But Solomon showed mercy. When his brother submitted to his authority and appeared to repent, Solomon sent him home. I’m sure he had his suspicions about Adonijah’s motives, but he gave him the benefit of the doubt.
1 Corinthians 13 says, “… love believes the best …”
Love chooses to believe the best until facts prove otherwise. In this case, Adonijah’s motives are soon revealed. He attempted to deceive Bathsheba into helping him regain power by allowing him to marry Abishag, the young woman who cared for David when he was dying. Had he married someone that close to the king, it would have given him a claim to the throne. And once his true motives were revealed, Solomon acted quickly and decisively.
Does God cause someone to sin? And how does God use the sins of others for our good and His glory?
2 Samuel 23 & 24
2 Samuel 23 & 24:
David a man of strength and weakness
Here we are at the last two chapters of 2 Samuel. They read like a summary of David’s life, both at his best and at his worst.
Chapter 23 gives David’s last inspired words (vv. 2-7), calling him “the sweet psalmist of Israel.” What a great ending—or is it? Along comes chapter 24. Verse 1, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.'”
There’s so much contained in that one verse. First, was it God who “caused” David to sin against the people? James 1.13-15 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
David, like all of us, was first and foremost tempted by his own sinful heart. 1 Chron. 21.1 says, “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.” So God, for His sovereign purposes allowed Satan to tempt David to do what was already in his heart.
So what was the sin that manifested itself here? Notice the last part of verse 2, “… count the people, that I may know the number of the people.” David counted the people out of his pride so that he would know the number of people over which he had rule.
What about the phrase, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel …”? Remember these were the people who had followed Absalom in rebellion against David and then afterwards, many of them had followed Sheba. So God allowed David to be His instrument of discipline in the lives of the people while he used the situation to reveal to David the pride in his own heart.
Romans 8.28-29, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
So what or whom is He using in your life to conform you to the image of His Son? How might He even be using someone else’s sin as an instrument of discipline in your life? What does He want you to see? How did David respond and how should you respond?
Verse 17, “Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, ‘Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father’s house.'” David took responsibility for his own sin. He didn’t blame the people. He understood that God was well able to deal with the sins of others.
Remember … remember … remember
God repeatedly reminds us to “remember” His deeds. In these verses David continues to recount the works of God so that he might “remember.”
Don’t rejoice in the calamity of others
Verse 5b, “… He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.” 1 Corinthians 13.6 says, love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.”
So the works of God can be revealed
Verses 1-3, “Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.'”
Often those things that we call “handicaps” are opportunities for the glory of God to be manifest whether through healing, as with this man, or through His grace in allowing that person to serve Him in a special, and just as miraculous, way.
What about you? Questions to ponder or journal:
Reread the questions in the 2 Samuel section. What or whom is God using in your life to conform you to the image of Christ?
What have you seen in your life as a weakness or handicap that God wants to use for His glory?
God is a God of the fatherless, especially the thousands and thousands of babies who are killed in their mothers’ wombs every year in our country. But He is also the God who restores those who have ended their babies lives if they turn to Him in genuine repentance.
2 Samuel 21 & 22
2 Samuel 21 & 22:
In chapter 21 we have the story of the seven sons of Saul being executed by the Gibeonites. Romans 12.19 says, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” This is divine justice being carried out.
But it hardly seems fair that it would be carried out on the next generation. In fact, Ezekiel 18.1-20 declares that a son or daughter will not die for the sins of their fathers.
That passage is true spiritually, meaning children won’t suffer eternal consequences for their parents’ sin. But it is also true that children, and even grandchildren, sometimes suffer physically for the sins of their parents. A baby born to a crack addicted mother may also be born “addicted” to the drug. The children of a drunkard often suffer from his or her abuse or neglect. Children whose parents live in sin and immorality often learn the habits of their parents.
But one phrase may help us understand why God allowed His justice to be carried out this way. Verse 1, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house …” It appears that the violence was not limited to Saul, it may have been a predominant attitude among his descendants, as well, (remember Shimei who cursed David when he fled Jerusalem). Continue reading →
It’s easy to read over the Old Testament stories and see them as irrelevant for today. But the Holy Spirit recorded each one for our benefit. We should never leave the reading of His Word without considering, “How does this apply to me?”
2 Samuel 19 & 20
2 Samuel 19 & 20:
The Old Testament and us
1 Corinthians 10.11 says about the Old Testament, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”
As you read these stories of all the kingdom intrigues, the in-fighting, the murders, the jostling for position, it’s a reminder to us of just how depraved we all are apart from God and how much we needed a Savior!
So His name may be known
Verses 1-2, “God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, Selah. That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.” Even as we pray like the psalmist did for God’s mercy and blessing, we should remember that it’s all about His glory—that His way and His name may be known in all the earth!
A little with peace
17.1 in the New Living Translation says, “Better a dry crust eaten in peace than a house filled with feasting—and conflict.” That is true in a family, in a marriage and in many other relationships, but it’s also true in our individual hearts and lives. It’s far better to have a little, and to have gotten it in a way consistent with Scripture, than to have much, gotten through sinful means, and have to deal with the inner conflict of knowing it’s displeasing to God. Continue reading →
There were many different reactions to the claims of Christ. Some were convinced, some contrary, some confused, and others hostile. Not much has changed today.
2 Samuel 17 & 18
2 Samuel 17 & 18:
A man’s pride will bring him low
Here we have the death of Absalom as God puts down the rebellion against David. Absalom got his head caught in a great oak tree as he passed under it on his mule. Many believe that it was his beautiful flowing hair that got caught in the tree. Remember that his hair had been a source of great pride to him. So much so that when he was forced to cut it once a year, he even weighed what he cut off (2 Sam. 14.26). Proverbs 29.23 says, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.”
But Absalom’s hair was only an outward manifestation of a bigger issue with pride. It was pride that made him think he could take matters into his own hands by killing his half brother Ammon and then rebelling against his father. And while David certainly had responsibility in the state of affairs that led to this rebellion and heartache, he ultimately trusted God’s sovereignty and trusted Him to work it out as He saw fit.
How unconfessed sin affects your prayers
Verse 18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” Sin that is not confessed and repented of, will hinder our prayers! It’s not enough to “admit” we have sin. Repentance means a change of heart that leads to a change in actions!