Psalm 139 is a powerful one about how intimately God knows us and how purposefully he made each one of us. It is futile to attempt to run from him and why would we want to? He knew us before we were born and loved us before our parents knew we were on our way. Here is a modern interpretation of the psalm:
2 Kings 1:1-2:25:
- 2 – Reminder: Ahaziah is the king of Judah. It is obviously not good that he’s seeking advice from Baal-zebub.
- 3 – A little sass from Elijah – clearly God was present, but Ahaziah chooses to consult other gods.
- 8 – This is very similar to the outfit John the Baptist was described to have worn. John the Baptist was considered the second Elijah.
- 9-16 – The first two captains with soldiers the king sent were most likely intending to do Elijah harm, this is why he wants to have them killed. The third captain and soldiers come more peacefully.
- 8 – Very reminiscent of Moses parting the Red Sea.
- 11-12 – Elijah is the second person in the Old Testament who doesn’t die. Enoch was the first who was simply taken to heaven.
- 23-25 – Most commentaries explain this as the boys having such disrespect, as did all their people, for the prophet Elisha or anything else representative of God. Elisha’s curse was also representative of the fate of the rest of the people in the city who rejected God. All in all, this is a strange and disturbing passage.
- 44-47 – The Jews, who were jealous of Paul and Barnabas’ crowd, denounced what Paul was saying. Paul reminds them that Jesus came for them first but was rejected. The gentiles now had a shot.
- 1-7 – Though the readings have, at times, been misinterpreted as such, the Jews weren’t bad. Throughout Acts, many come to faith. Some of the Jewish religious leaders, however, did oppose Jesus’ mission and ministry and cause problems.
- A beautiful psalm explaining the depth to which God knows us. He knew us in our mother’s womb. He knows our movements and our thoughts.
- 23-24 – A powerful request for God to fully search your heart and take away the parts that don’t please him. A difficult prayer to pray, but the results would be life changing!
There are certain things in life that you simply cannot do halfway. You can’t get kind of married. You can’t come to work sometimes (and expect to keep working there). And you can’t love God most of the time. This is what Jehoshaphat tried to do. For the most part, he’s a good guy…but he was only faithful to a point. God is not looking for partial followers or sometimes believers. He is looking for our whole hearts and whole commitment.
1 Kings 22:1-53:
- 5 – Jehoshaphat was willing to go into an alliance with Ahab, but only if the Lord approved it.
- 6-8 – The 400 prophets who gave Ahab the go-ahead were not prophets of the Lord. Micaiah was and he spoke truth from the Lord. Ahab preferred good news to truth.
- 40 – Micaiah was right. Ahab trying to conquer Ramoth-gilead was a bad idea. He dies in battle and Ahaziah takes over.
- 42-44 – It seems that Jehoshaphat intended to honor and worship God, but he failed in certain areas – leaving up certain allegiances to other gods and making an alliance with someone who did not honor God.
- Today’s reading is pretty much the best sermon ever preached.
- 16-25 – Paul sums up the grace of God and the failures of the Israelites from Jacob to John the Baptist.
- 26-41 – Paul explains how Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies the Jews read so frequently and longed to have fulfilled. He also warns them not to be the ones who fulfilled the prophecy that many people would not see and understand.
- So many of David’s psalms show his steadfastness in praising God despite his surroundings or circumstances.
- 17 – True, godly relationships are able to withstand difficulty and trials.
Did your parents ever forget your birthday? Spouse ever forget your anniversary? It’s both embarrassing and hurtful to be forgotten. When the Israelites lost their home and identity to Babylonian exile, they thought it was because God had forgotten them. God had not forgotten them but simply allowed them to face their consequences he had so long protected them from.
1 Kings 20:1-21:29:
- 1-12 – Ahab realizes that there is little chance they can beat the Arameans. He is willing to concede the best of the Israelites’ possessions, but is not willing to concede the entire city. Even by the way he addresses Ben-Hadad as “my lord and king” it shows that Ahab knows he has lost.
- 22 – God gave the Israelites victory in this battle, but war always returned in the spring. The prophet urges Ahab to strengthen his army in the meantime.
- 27 – Paints a very intimidating picture for the Israelites.
- 31-43 – Once again, Ahab does not follow the instructions of the Lord. God gave Ben-hadad into Ahab’s hands, but Ahab makes a covenant with Ben-hadad in order to gain more land and wealth. The prophet makes it clear that this will result in Ahab’s demise.
- 15 – Doing the right thing doesn’t always protect you from evil.
- 27-29 – After all his wrongdoing, Ahab repents and God has mercy on him and saves his punishment for his son. This seems unfair, but presumably, if the son follows the Lord, the punishment might be postponed again.
- 1 – They mention Manaen’s friendship with Herod because of how shocking it would have been that a friend of a Herod, would have become a believer. One of the Herod’s tried to have Jesus killed as a baby and another could have stopped his crucifixion but didn’t.
- 15 – It is unclear if the rulers of the synagogue are also believers and actually wanted to hear what Paul had to say or if they had some sort of obligation to have him speak.
- 1 – The Israelites were in exile in Babylon for around 70 years. During this time they longed for their culture, home, and identity.
- 6 – Jerusalem and Zion are often hailed because they were where the temple was and the temple represented the Israelites’ connection with God. When the temple was destroyed and the Israelites were driven out of Jerusalem, they wondered if God had forgotten them.
This link is in the notes as well, but seriously, if you’d like Amy Grant to tell you today’s main Acts story, do yourself a favor and watch this video:
1 Kings 19:1-21:
- 8 – Moses, Jesus, and now Elijah have all experienced 40 day fasts. Notice that each of them have just experienced or are simultaneously experiencing the power and glory of God. Jesus had just been baptized and received the Holy Spirit, Moses was on the mountain with God, and Elijah had just seen God consume a bull with fire.
- 11-12 – Often we miss God’s voice and what he’s calling us to do because we’re distracted by the chaos and the big shows. At times, we must be quiet and still to hear him in the whisper.
- 14-18 – Elijah felt very alone in his faithfulness to God and even feared for his life. God made it clear that he was not alone, but that God would take care of those who had been faithful while punishing those who had not.
- 19 – Elijah putting his cloak on Elisha symbolizes a transfer of power.
- 20-21 – Elijah’s response is unclear, but Elisha takes care of a few final things and then begins his life working with and learning from Elijah.
- 3 – Passover was also when Jesus was arrested and killed.
- 6-11 – A thrilling, 80’s, musical rendition of this story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNIO9KH3UC8.
- 12-17 – They assumed that Peter would die in prison and were not expecting to see him.
- We are to love God because of his great love for us. All the things he does for us, because of his love, are icing on the cake.
- 15 – Condoning evil and persecuting good are both equally detestable to God.
Today’s 1 Kings reading includes a very cool story where we see God show up in power just when it seemed like the bad guys were going to win out. This story also shows us that God doesn’t have to conform to our ideas and constructs. In our understanding, wet wood doesn’t burn. In our understanding, dead people don’t come to life. God disagrees.
1 Kings 18:1-46:
- 7-16 – Though Obadiah was a high-ranking official in Ahab’s kingdom, he followed the Lord. Obadiah, here, fears that Elijah will not present himself to Ahab and Obadiah will look like a liar and be killed.
- 22-24 – Though we are not normally supposed to put God to the test, Elijah, a prophet of God, was clearly intended to do this.
- 27 – Elijah taunts the prophets of Baal as they desperately try to get Baal to show up.
- 39 – God’s power, which proves to be far greater than Baal’s, turns people’s hearts back to him.
- 2 – Yes, the “circumcision party” sounds like a terrible party, but this isn’t actually referring to a party with balloons and confetti. This is simply referring to a group of people who held to Jewish law and custom, but were believers in Christ.
- 4-18 – It’s beautiful that these Jewish believers find great joy in God extending his grace and salvation to gentiles as well.
- 26 – The term “Christian” means “little Christs”.
- This is a psalm recounting a variety of reasons why God is praiseworthy and other gods are not. You could replace verse 8-12 with all the wonderful things God has done for you that give you reason to praise him.
- 12 – Well, I think that sums up how undesirable and destructive folly is.
Now that we’ve read a little bit into the kings, let’s learn a little bit more about why we have these two books (that were once one). Warning: be prepared to be disappointed in humanity.
Peter was a faithful Jew. He followed Christ and taught others about him but still followed the laws he’d been given. In our reading in Acts yesterday and today, Peter’s world is turned upside down as God reveals to him that some of his laws were now secondary to assuring that people knew Christ.
1 Kings 15:25-17:24:
- 25-26 – What’s worse than sinning yourself is also causing others to sin. Nadab sinned like his father and also drug the Israelites down with him.
- The majority of today’s reading chronicles the parade of kings, their terrible choices, and their demises.
- 29-33 – Ahab was the worst of the worst.
- 1 – This is the same Elijah you’ve heard about. He is a powerful prophet.
- 2-7 – This is Elijah, not Ahab, who is living by the brook and being fed by ravens.
- 8-16 – As a widow, she would have had no source of income. It took a great act of faith to risk the little she had on a promise that she would be taken care of.
- 23-29 – Traditionally, a Jew wouldn’t enter the home of another people group. God made it clear to Peter that this was now ok and he no longer needed to keep these types of divisions.
- 34-35 – Remember, Jesus explained that his first mission was to “the lost sheep of Israel” or Israelites who were not faithful. Peter continued that ministry, but now it is clear that ministry has been opened up to people other than the Israelites.
- 44-48 – The Holy Spirit coming to the gentile believers was even more proof than Peter’s words that salvation was available for all.
- 10 – A wise person responds to rebukes while a foolish person can be told over and over and over.
Like trying to keep the Israelites separate from all other people groups, God often sets parameters for us to protect us. The Israelites didn’t listen, they intermingled, and it ultimately led to their destructions as they chose to worship the gods of the neighboring people. We sometimes feel stifled by our parameters and don’t want to abide by them, but ultimately, it will lead to our destruction too.
1 Kings 14:1-15:24:
- Clarification because of all the rhyming names: Rehoboam = Solomon’s son who was king of only Judah and Benjamin. Jeroboam = one of Solomon’s former officials who God appointed king over Israel. Abijah = Jeroboam’s son. Ahijah = a prophet who told Jeroboam he would be king.
- 6-12 – Choosing and worshipping other gods was the most egregious sin someone could commit. Losing a child is the most painful punishment one could receive.
- 22-24 – Though it seemed harsh at the time, now it makes sense why God drove other people groups out of the land intended for the Israelites. They were to be set apart so they wouldn’t be influenced to worship other gods and disobey God’s law. By intermingling, they have now fallen prey to these temptations.
- The list of the kings of both Judah and Israel can become complicated. Here is a chart of who was king of where when.
- When a verse has an “a” or “b” by it, this simply means to read through the first half of the verse, normally ending in a period, or to start with the second half of the verse.
- 9-16 – Peter, though a dedicated follower of Jesus, was still culturally a Jew and still followed their laws. He feared eating something that was previously forbidden, but God made it clear that he was now allowed to.
- 2 – Anointing with oil in this culture was a sign of great honor. This is specifically talking about Aaron being anointed as chief priest.
When God warns you of something, you should definitely listen. God knew that he was a better king than any human could ever be, but back in 1 Samuel the Israelites insisted on a human king like all the other nations. In today’s reading, just four kings later, the consequences of poor decisions by human kings is becoming painfully obvious. Israel has now split into two nations, weakening them and setting them up for their ultimate demise.
1 Kings 12:20-13:34:
- It’s about to start getting confusing with who was king of where when. Here’s a simple chart to help you keep them straight.
- 25-33 – Jeroboam has every reason to trust God because he had made it clear that he would keep him in power because of his great love for David. Jeroboam almost immediately loses trust and builds golden calves so the wouldn’t lose his portion of Israelites.
- 11-25 – This story gets confusing with the old prophet and the original prophet and the man of God. Note that the prophet should have listened to God above anything else. Ultimately, listening to the other prophet caused his death.
- 33-34 – Jeroboam continued to stray further and further from God’s will.
- 26 – Sometimes the consequences of our previous sins linger.
- 36-43 – Despite an unfortunate nickname, Tabitha was a great asset to those around her. She served and provided for those around her. Her resurrection also brought many people to faith.
- 11-12 – In our 1 Kings reading we are currently seeing God trying to find ways to keep David’s line in the throne though they continually turn against him.
Everyone has a “bad idea friend”. They’re the friend who is always talking you into things that get you in trouble, cause you to make bad investments, and ultimately make life more difficult. Unfortunately, Rehoboam chose to listen to his “bad idea friends” instead of wise counsel. He had an opportunity to be a great king, but bad ideas get the best of him. It’ll make you think twice about who you take advice from.
1 Kings 11:1-12:19:
- 1-3 – Solomon knew the law and knew the reasoning for the law, but he was unable to withstand his desires and ultimately, it led to his downfall.
- 4-8 – David sinned, but never worshipped or offered any sort of allegiance to other gods. Solomon divided his heart between many gods, this breaks the first and most important commandment.
- 11-13 – God promised that David’s line would be on the throne as long as they were faithful to him. Solomon has already failed there. God had such love for David, though, that he allows his line to stay partially in leadership.
- 36 – It was important for David’s line to stay on the throne because Jesus eventually comes from David’s line.
- 40 – Clearly Solomon had strayed far from God if he was willing to oppose God’s will even to the point of killing God’s chosen future king.
- 6-8 – Rehoboam had a chance to be a beloved king. He only needed to listen to the wise counsel of the older men and lighten the load of the people.
- 8-15 – Rehoboam, instead, listens to his bonehead friends and chooses to increase the difficulty of the people. Rehoboam’s sin ultimately causes the split of the kingdom, which, over time, causes all kinds of problems and makes them so vulnerable that both parts of the kingdom are conquered.
- 2 – “The Way” is what early Christians were called.
- 3-16 – Certainly there were many people who persecuted the early Christians. God had a specific purpose for Saul – to minister to the gentiles – so he converted him dramatically.
- 20-22 – Saul’s conversion was so dramatic because he was well known for persecuting Christians. We know him as Paul, a faithful disciple, so it’s easy for us to believe what he says about practicing our faith, but those who had heard of him previously would have had a difficult time.
- This Psalm indicates humility and reliance, like a young child, on God.
- This proverb seems to describe the actions of a bully and how they will not prosper.