We often envision characters in the Bible as having been perfect. Why would they put their stories in the Bible if they weren’t? Well…the story going on in 2 Samuel will set you straight real fast. Also, if you want to feel better about your family dynamics, dive right in.
2 Samuel 14:1-15:22:
- 1-11 – Very similarly to Nathan’s story about the poor man who had one lamb, the woman from Tekoa tells a story that parallel’s David’s situation with his sons. Amnon is dead and Absalom is banished but would be killed if he returned.
- 27 – Absalom named his daughter after his sister.
- 28-33 – Absalom slowly works his way into good standing with his father David.
- 1-12 – Absalom is smart and sneaky and begins to build a following so he can overtake the throne.
- 13-22 – David recognizes the danger of Absalom having a large following. Though he doesn’t give up the throne, he does retreat so he can’t be found.
- 2 – Many wonder how Judas knew where to find Jesus. Though we view Judas as a horrible person because he betrays Jesus, as a disciple, he was actually a close friend of Jesus’ and knew his patterns and regular places.
- 10-11 – Another example of Peter’s zealous action. Once again he wants to stop Jesus from his fate. Though certainly done with good intentions, Jesus reminds him that he has a greater purpose that Peter will not be able to stop.
- 14 – Look back on May 20th, John 11:49-50. It’s still uncertain if Caiaphas believed in Jesus as the Messiah or not, but he clearly had insight into what was to come.
- 15-17 – This is the only mention of another disciple going with Peter to the trial. It is interesting that his name is not mentioned. Some people believe that this disciple as well as the “beloved disciple” is John, the writer of the gospel.
- 97-104 – Though the psalmist sounds like a bit of a bragger here, note that he’s actually attributing all his success and righteousness to God’s law.
- 105 – A beautiful image of God’s word making our path through life easier and more clear. And it is responsible for a rockin Amy Grant song.
- 9 – A great image of the relationship we’re allowed to share with God in creating our future.
Today’s psalm reminds us of a pretty crucial concept and one that is questioned a lot. We believe that God is a good God and thus does good things. The two make sense together. You can’t really believe one without the other. Often, the fact that bad things happen is used as an argument that God is not good. But what if there’s more to the story than what we can understand? What if God is working those bad things for good, like he says he will? The psalmist raises a good point that we could all stand to think about.
2 Samuel 12:1-31:
- 1-6 – It’s hard not to love the little lamb just from reading Nathan’s story. With good reason, David is enraged at the injustice of the rich man taking the poor man’s beloved lamb and David demands revenge.
- 7-15 – David’s sin against Uriah and God was egregious. Nathan helps him see this through his story of the lamb. Nathan explains David’s punishments for his sin.
- 15-23 – David is faithful through his son’s short life calling on the Lord for grace. Though God is gracious in not killing David, his son still dies.
- 24 – Note that David’s sin did not cause God to take the throne away from him or his family. Solomon will become the 3rd king of Israel.
- 5 – One major theme throughout John is where Jesus came from and where he’s going. He continually alludes to going somewhere and no one seems to understand what that is.
- 7 – The Helper that is to come is the Holy Spirit.
- 16-22 – Jesus will go away when he’s crucified but will only be gone for a short while until he’s raised from the dead.
- 29-32 – Though the writing had been on the wall for a while, the disciples finally understand where Jesus is going and where he came from. They finally recognize who he truly is.
- 33 – A beautiful reminder that even though there is trouble in the world, and the faithful will face persecution, we have hope in our Savior.
- You can feel the tension in the psalmist’s writing. He is both angered by the way his enemies have treated him, but also fully committed to God’s law. We often feel this tension between doing what our sinful nature would lead us towards and remaining faithful to God.
- 68 – A great reminder that God both is good and does good. If we believe one we must believe the other.
- 70 – I wonder if we ever approach God’s law with “delight”.
- 4 – God does not create us wicked, but we sin and fall short. Thus the need for a day of judgment.
Other than Penecostal churches, in modern Christianity, we talk very little about the Holy Spirit, mostly because we don’t know much about it. The Holy Spirit is mysterious and powerful and that often scares us. But Jesus describes a Holy Spirit as a gift to be given and calls the Holy Spirit “even greater” than him. In verse 37-39 of today’s John reading, there’s a very cool description of what happens to people when the Holy Spirit comes. What does that description mean to you?
1 Samuel 13:23-14:52:
- 23 – A garrison is a group of troops stationed in a certain area to defend it.
- 6 – Jonathan had faith that God could offer them victory even though only he and his armor-bearer were opposing the group of Philistines.
- 7-15 – Throughout the Bible, many characters have opportunities for God to confirm or deny that something will happen. Here, the Philistines response is Jonathan’s cue for whether or not he will have victory.
- 24-30 – Saul makes a hasty decision to deny his troops food. This is obviously problematic because they were engaged in strenuous activity. Saul also doesn’t assure that Jonathan knows about the oath. Saul’s quick, ill-advised decisions have now caused problems twice.
- 36-37 – Like Jonathan, Saul reaches out to the Lord for guidance in battle. Unlike with Jonathan, God does not give an answer.
- 38-44 – Because of Saul’s hasty oath, Jonathan must die since he unknowingly ate when he wasn’t supposed to. Saul offers to cast lots so that he might take the fall, but the sentence falls on Jonathan.
- 45-46 – The Israelites speak out against the injustice against Jonathan because they believe him to be responsible for the great victory over the Philistines.
- 31 – Meant to be a sarcastic question with the understanding that Jesus was the Christ.
- 37-39 – The Holy Spirit was given to the believers on Pentecost after Jesus ascended to heaven.
- 41-42 – Clearly the crowd did not know where Jesus was born or what his lineage was.
- 45-52 – The Pharisees’ sense of status made them believe that they would be the first to recognize a Messiah and that he would play by the same rules as them.
- 1-20 – David asks for punishment for those who he’s been kind to but have shown hate to him.
- 21-31 – David, once again, puts his trust in God to protect and provide for him in the midst of enemies.
- 5 – Each one of us could probably recall a specific piece of advice from our parents we did not listen to and wish we would have. Wisdom is knowing to listen to that advice.
My mom heard me call my sister a “butthead” once. She told me never to say it again so I literally never did until I retold the story when I was in my 20’s. It was still difficult to say. Just because we sin once doesn’t mean we should continue on with that sin. It’s not as if that has to be your “thing”. Today’s 1 Samuel reading reminds us of why this is an important concept to understand.
1 Samuel 12:1-13:22:
- 1-5 – Some Bible scholars say that Samuel is the most boring character in Scripture. Basically, he never turns from God or is involved in a scandal of any sort. He is just steady. Not even his constituents can find fault with him.
- 8-14 – The Lord was continuously faithful in protecting and providing for the Israelites, but people are fickle, and when things got scary, they lost trust. They convinced themselves that a human king could protect them from other nations best.
- 20-22 – A good reminder that just because we’ve been sinful doesn’t mean we should keep on sinning and assume God is no longer for us. God redeems and restores over and over.
- 2 – There were many places called Gibeah in the area, that’s why Gibeah has been mentioned multiple times recently. Each Gibeah is qualified, for instance, this is Gibeah of Benjamin.
- 8-14 – Saul was not supposed to offer burnt offerings. That was the job of the priest. Saul was afraid of the Philistines and afraid that his supporters and army were abandoning him so he took matters into his own hands. Because of his lack of faith, his family line would not continue to be king.
- 14 – The description, “A man after God’s own heart” is only used about one person throughout Scripture, the next king: David.
- 19-22 – This sounds like a pretty difficult way to fight a battle.
- 2 – The Feast of Booths, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of the Ingathering, is the last of the 7 festivals Jews were to observe. During it, Jews put together a small, quickly built hut to eat their meals in. It is a time of remembering when their ancestors lived in small, quickly built huts for 40 years in the desert. It was later used to celebrate the harvest.
- 10-13 – Jesus’ ministry caused a huge ruckus amongst the religious authorities. He was starting a movement that didn’t fit in their constraints and they felt threatened.
- 16-18 – A good way to check ourselves. Are we seeking glory for God or for ourselves – a good way to know whether or not you should continue what you’re doing.
- 26-28 – The people of Jerusalem who begin to question if Jesus really was the Christ or not raise the point that they know where Jesus came from, which means he can’t be the Christ. They think they know where he came from as in Mary’s womb and Nazareth his hometown. But truly, Jesus comes from God.
- 4 – This beautiful description of God’s great love and faithfulness inspired a Third Day song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEF7IoQ3eUk
- This psalm is a mixture of David’s praise to God and remembering the reasons he deserves praise and a plea for help in war. Often we ask for the help without offering the praise or thanksgiving.
- We often think perverse words or thoughts are all in fun or can be stopped at any time. Instead, these words and thoughts are the fruit of what we are putting into ourselves. From a good tree comes good fruit. From a bad tree comes bad fruit.
Words tend to be a large part of a variety of our sins. Deceit, manipulation, lies, etc. are all sins of words. Our words have power and we often forget that. Let today’s Proverb remind you to be careful with your words.
1 Samuel 10:1-11:15:
- 1-8 – Samuel anoints Saul as prince (eventually king) of Israel and explains to him what God will do to confirm that this is all true. It would be pretty hard to believe that you were being anointed as the king of Israel when there had never been one and you weren’t seeking to be king.
- 9-13 – Though Saul’s anointing hadn’t been made public yet, he was quickly revealed to some people who knew him as a prophet.
- 20-24 – Though Saul was reluctant, the people of Israel accepted him immediately as king. He looked the part, being tall and handsome.
- 1-15 – This story is a little confusing without context. The Ammonites attacked the Israelites in Jabesh-gilead (also known as Jabesh). The men of Jabesh are willing to make a treaty with the Ammonites to serve them. Note that they never seek God’s help throughout the story. The Ammonites want to gouge out an eye because it disgraces the Israelites and renders them unable to fight in battles. The men of Jabesh send for help and the plea reaches Saul. Saul’s army defeats the Ammonites and Saul’s position is solidified with the people.
- 47-51 – God provided for the physical needs of the Israelites in the desert. God uses Jesus to take it a step further by offering himself up for people’s eternal needs.
- 52-58 – Jesus did not actually intend for the people to gnaw on his body. He did, however, intend for them to practice communion (which began with the last supper), and to allow his body and blood to be what sustained them.
- 67-69 – Peter is the only disciple who publicly identifies Jesus as the Messiah or Son of God.
- 1 – This verse often starts psalms and other portions of Scripture meant for praising God.
- 8-9 – Too often we forget these things when we feel forgotten, desperate, or alone. It is beautiful when we can remember God’s “wondrous works” and testify to his faithfulness so that other “hungry souls” can hear and be filled.
- 10-13 – Sometimes we fail and have to face our consequences, but when we cry out to God, he is always faithful to bring us back to himself.
- 23-32 – This portion of the psalm would have been helpful for the disciples to know when they were in a storm on a boat and panicked.
- 1-2 – The book of James dedicates a large section to taming the tongue. The tongue is compared to a horse’s bridle or a boat’s rudder. It steers and can control us. This Proverb supports that.
Welcome to John! He starts his gospel off with a bang. Clearly referring to the beginning of Genesis, he starts off with, “In the beginning…”. John’s gospel, from the beginning, and throughout the entire book, is very different from the other three gospels. While each gospel has a specific purpose, John’s is stated at the end. He explains that this gospel was written so that we would believe that Jesus was the Messiah. So…read carefully.
- 1 – Being the son of a prostitute was shameful in their culture, but it’s clear that God is willing to use him anyway since he was a mighty warrior. You may also notice that people’s tribes are mentioned quite a bit in this book. Because the Israelites had mixed with other people groups so heavily, it was important to differentiate who were actual Israelites by mentioning their tribe.
- 24 – Ancient cultures believed that the side with the mightier god would win a battle. This is why Jephthah calls out the Amorites god, Chemosh.
- 30-40 – Note that God does not ask for this sacrifice from Jephthah, he foolishly offers it up and it costs him the life of his daughter. This is why we are to give and do what God asks of us, not decide for ourselves what God wants.
- John’s gospel is different from the other 3, which are known as the Synoptic Gospels. They all draw from each other, while John’s gospel does not as much. John’s gospel is where we find the “I am” statements. These are statements where Jesus says, “I am…” and reveals something about himself.
- 1 – “The Word” is Christ. This explains to us that Christ has been present from the beginning. He did not enter into existence at birth, but always been just as God the Father has always been.
- 6-8 – This refers to John the Baptist. Many wondered if he was the one they had waited for, but he was not, he simply came to prepare the way for Christ.
- 9-13 – Christ came first to save the Jews, his own people, but many did not recognize him or believe that he was the Messiah. All who did were made children of God.
- 14 – “The Word became flesh” explains the coming of Christ as a human. Instead of the birth narrative we read in Matthew and Luke, this explains the coming of Christ.
- 17 – Moses gave the law. Grace and truth came through Jesus. The law did not make room for grace, but God offered that through Christ.
- 20-23 – John does not claim to be anything he’s not, but quotes Isaiah, a verse the religious leaders would have certainly known, and explains that he’s preparing the way for the Messiah to come.
- This Psalm of David would be an excellent one to read or recite when faced with temptation or to start your day with the intent of living righteously. “I will ponder the way that is blameless.” “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.”
- 14 – There are a number of references in the New Testament to bad sources only producing bad fruit and good sources only producing good fruit. We cannot expect to produce great things if our hearts are not great as well.
Consider this an all things Easter bonus edition of our blog! Today is THE GREATEST DAY of the year!! Today is the day we celebrate God’s triumph over sin and death and recognize that Jesus truly is the Savior of the World.
Finally, enjoy this explanation of the foretelling and fulfillment of the Messiah, Jesus – Our Savior!
There have been a number of famous declarations throughout human history, a personal favorite is the Declaration of Independence, which our forefathers signed in 1776. But in today’s Luke reading, we find a declaration far more significant in the life of one man as well as human history. Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, is the first of his followers to recognize and vocalize that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah the people were expecting. Each of us, in our own ways, must also make this declaration confessing Jesus as the Christ and as our Savior. If you want to talk about that, let me know.
- 5-6 – Eventually God will choose Jerusalem as the place where the Israelites were to offer Passover sacrifices.
- 21 – Asherah poles were built in homage to another god.
- 2-5 – Keeping the Israelites worship pure was a high priority and taken very seriously.
- Later, when the Israelites actually ask for a king, God says it is because they are rejecting him. They want to be like the other countries around them when God has set them apart to be different.
- 10-17 – This story is also found in Matthew and Mark. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the synoptic gospels. The writers most likely worked from each others accounts to help create their gospels.
- 18-20 – Peter is the first of Jesus’ followers to declare him as the Messiah.
- 23-24 – A powerful image of following after Christ even to the greatest of lengths. It does us no good ultimately to live a good life but never know or follow Christ.
- Solomon was the son of David who took over as king after him. He was known for his wisdom.
- 1-7 – A prayer all leaders should pray.
In today’s Deuteronomy reading we find the passage our children’s ministry is based on: Deuteronomy 6:4-9. It encourages us to be so immersed in the Bible that it is natural to teach it to our children as we spend time with them daily. I’d say reading the Bible every day for a year is a pretty great way to start the immersion.
- Moses reminds the Israelites of the 10 Commandments the Lord gave them. This is a bit of an extended version of the commandments.
- 4-9 – This is the passage our children’s ministry uses as a guide. It encourages parents to pass down to the faith to their children and encourages families to keep God’s Word at the forefront.
- 10-15 – We often take pride in the things we have even when we did not earn or work for them. This often leads to relying on entities other than God.
- 16 – Jesus quotes this when he is tempted by the devil in the desert.
- 25 – When we put our faith into action, it is counted to us as righteousness.
- 11-17 – This woman would have been in bad shape. Widows relied on male relatives to take care of them after their husbands died and this was her only son who had just died.
- 18-19 – John believed that Jesus was the Messiah but needed confirmation.
- 22-23 – Jesus quotes the same part of Isaiah that he did in the synagogue in chapter 4. But he leaves one significant line out: that the prisoners would be set free. John was in prison at the time and would most likely understand that Jesus was saying he would not be released, but that Jesus was the Messiah.
- 26-27 – Jesus confirms that John was the messenger the prophets foretold and he is the Messiah for whom the messenger was to prepare the way.
A theme you may have noticed, which will be prevalent this week, is that God did not want the Israelites to associate with other people groups in any significant way. To us this may seem exclusive and even hateful towards those people. Entire people groups were wiped out in order to avoid these associations. But these people groups weren’t victims of McCarthyism. God wasn’t accusing or attacking these people without substantial evidence. We see, over and over, the Israelites engaging with other nations and beginning to take on their customs and even worship their gods. God knew the Israelites would be easily swayed and would lose their loyalty to him. Setting the Israelites apart was a way of protecting them.
This week’s Luke readings will definitely keep you engaged with parables, healings, and tons more! Two cool things to look for and think about for a while are:
1) Peter’s recognition and admission of Jesus as the Messiah – Peter’s admission is the first of any of Jesus’ followers. People were still saying he might be Elijah or some other prophet, and obviously many people were thinking he was a heretic. Peter, as he tended to do, steps out in faith and declares Jesus’ identity.
2) Jesus telling a woman that her faith has healed her – Throughout Scripture there are different explanations of why people are healed. Some just seem to be miracles from God without any other explanation. Some are based on the faith of someone else asking for a friend or loved one and others, like the healing we’ll read about on Thursday, are attributed to the faith of the person healed. What do you notice as the difference between the healings? Is there any? If so, why?
Finally, some of our Psalms this week are very raw. They are filled with rage and malice and can be jarring to us. Try to remember that these Psalms are not God talking, but a human, like you and me. This is not necessarily something to model ourselves after, but to remind us that God knows us at our best and worst, and we are sinful.
Keep up the good reading! You’re doing great!!