Have you ever felt unworthy to ask God for something? Maybe you thought it wasn’t important enough or that you didn’t deserve it. In today’s psalm, David admits that he has sinned but he asks for God’s protection and blessing anyway. God wants to know our hearts and wants us to ask for what we need. A good rule of thumb is to repent (this assumes true repentance) and then ask God for what you need.
2 Kings 8:1-9:13:
- 10 – God made it clear that the king would not die from the illness, but he would die soon.
- 15 – Hazael kills the king by putting a wet, heavy blanket on his face and suffocating him.
- 4-6 – Jehu is made king over Israel after quite a line of evil kings.
- 16-24 – Paul drives the evil spirit out of the young women, but her owners, who profited off that spirit are not pleased. They get others on board and beat and imprison the apostles.
- 25-34 – Paul and Silas are miraculously released from prison, but they stay and end up converting the jailer.
- 1-2 – David asks that the Lord would grant his prayers while admitting his own sinfulness and inability to deserve God’s blessings.
- The entire psalm is an earnest prayer asking God to hear him and protect him.
- Presumably the fine would be unwarranted if it was placed on a righteous man.
In today’s Acts reading we meet Timothy, Paul’s protégé. Paul mentors and trains Timothy to also be able to minister to early churches and spread the gospel. Paul prepares Timothy for pitfalls, allows him to watch his ministry and travel with him, and encourages him in his gifts. What if we each had a faith protégé?
2 Kings 6:1-7:20:
- Here’s that chart of the kings again, just in case:
- 1-7 – This was not just a party trick or Elisha showing off. The man’s accident with the axe head was done while attempting to be more faithful. Elisha used God’s power to bless his faith.
- 15-19 – Elisha’s servant is given special sight to see what’s going on. The Syrian army is not struck completely blind, but just blind to Elisha’s true identity.
- 20-23 – Though a rare occasion in the Old Testament, the Syrians and Israelites are able to resolve the situation peacefully.
- 25 – People are buying donkey heads and dove poop. Clearly the famine was really bad. They were so desperate they were eating the least desirable part of an unclean animal and paying high dollar for dove poop – which they were probably burning or using for other household tasks – not eating it.
- 26-31 – While this story is absolutely horrifying – here is some background: Joram was the king of Israel. His sins as well as the sins of the people had gotten so out of control that some of the curses associated with breaking their covenant with God had started to occur. Though Joram’s response in verse 31 suggests that the famine and reactions by the people are God or Elisha’s fault, it was actually caused by the ongoing sin of the people.
- 3-20 – The four lepers were Israelites, this is why they tell the king when the Syrians’ camp is empty. The Israelites, like Elisha prophesied, had abundant, affordable food.
- 39-40 – Church disputes happen because we’re human. Like this one, God works good through our failures. Now there are two teams ministering instead of the one they had before.
- 1-5 – Timothy became Paul’s protégé. Paul circumcised Timothy, even though it was no longer truly necessary, to give him credibility with those he would minister to.
- 10 – Note that the narrator goes from being simply a narrator to a participant by starting to use “we”. This is to indicate that Luke, the writer of Acts, has joined the mission team.
- This psalm said it was written when David is in the cave. This is most likely talking about when he was hiding in the cave with some of his men and Saul came in to use the restroom. David had an opportunity to kill Saul, but only cut off a piece of his robe instead.
- At this time David has been anointed as king but is on the run because Saul is still in power and is pursuing him to kill him.
- 24 – We often look to everything else to satisfy us, but wisdom will guide us faithfully where we are supposed to go.
It is far easier to hold onto what we know and never let go, even if it’s not the best thing for us. Change is hard and scary and requires trust. Many of the Jews who became believers were excited about Jesus, but didn’t trust in grace for salvation completely. They wanted to dabble in faith and in trusting the law for holiness. Peter works to make it clear you have to choose one or the other.
2 Kings 4:18-5:27:
- 18-25 – In yesterday’s reading, this child was promised to the woman as a gift from God, and now he dies. The woman’s faith is greatly tested. She puts him on his bed and shuts the door so no one else will know he died. She seeks Elisha to explain what’s going on with her son since Elisha was the one who told her she would have this child.
- 32-44 – Note that there are three miracles in a row. A resurrection, providing food where there is none, and providing more food than there actually was. Any time there are three of something in Scripture, we should pay attention. Elisha is clearly connected to and filled with the power of God.
- 9-10 – Though Elisha invites Naaman to his house, he does not let him in. This is strange considering the hospitality culture of ancient Israelites.
- 11 – Naaman wanted a grand, miraculous healing and thought Elisha’s instructions were a farce.
- 15-16 – It was not unusual for faithful Israelites to turn down gifts from other nations. This was to show their commitment to the provision of God and so no other nation or god could take credit for the Israelites’ well-being.
- 20-27 – Gehazi did not trust the Lord for provision and saw an opportunity. He lied to both Naaman and Elisha and his punishment was receiving the leprosy Naaman had.
- 1-11 – Some Jews, who had become believers, still felt the need to cling to the law and the sign that they were set apart. Peter urges them that the law had not worked for salvation and so it is the grace of Jesus alone that saves.
- 19-21 – Peter makes it clear that Jesus didn’t abolish faithfulness and living to please God. There were still standards. It was just important to know that the law wasn’t a means of salvation.
- 3-4 – David gives God permission to help control his mouth and heart so he can be more faithful.
- 5 – David also welcomes correction from faithful people.
Can you imagine if 3,000 people came to faith from a sermon today? That would be incredible!! Peter’s explanation of Jesus as the Messiah was convincing enough to help tons of people put their faith in Christ. And just think, this is way before any type of mass communication or even microphones. The good news was that powerful then and it still is today!
2 Samuel 22:21-23:23:
- 21-7 – David’s song of praise to God continues from yesterday’s reading.
- 25-27 – David portrays God’s reactions as equivalent to the actions of the human. Good behavior receives favor. Poor behavior receives punishment.
- 1-7 – These were not David’s last words before death but the last of that song. We see that later he asks for a drink.
- 14-17 – Bethlehem was David’s hometown so he wanted something from home. His request caused people to break through the camp and apparently blood was shed. David was not pleased at the consequences of his request.
- 1-4 – At the end of the gospels, Jesus tells the disciples he is going away but will send a Helper who is even better than him. The entrance of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of that promise.
- 17-21 – Peter interprets the prophecy from Joel correctly. Now that the Holy Spirit is present, the disciples began to see even more miracles and powerful conversions.
- 22-36 – Peter speaks directly to Israelites who did not believe in Jesus but who revered David. David was a national hero and all the connections the Messiah was supposed to have to David were fulfilled in Jesus.
- 37-41 – About 3,000 of the Israelites confessed Christ as Savior and were baptized. Whether they were convinced by the resurrection, guidance of the Holy Spirit, or proven connection to David doesn’t matter. They’re conversions are a testament to the lengths to which God will go to be in connection with humanity.
- 42-47 – These new believers became the first Christian church. These verses are often used as a basis for how we should run churches today.
- This psalm is written for Jews making their pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem for one of the three annual festivals (Passover, The Feast of Weeks, The Feast of Booths) that required being at the temple.
We’ve talked several times about how good the Israelites were at passing down stories and memories of the great things God had done for them. This time, after God sustains the Israelites against the Philistines, Samuel builds a monument called an “Ebenezer” to remind the Israelites of God’s continued faithfulness. What would make you build an Ebenezer?
1 Samuel 5:1-7:17:
- 1-5 – Dagon was a Philistine god and the Ark of the Covenant was placed in Dagon’s temple. The Dagon statue’s demise was clear that even though the Philistines defeated the Israelites, the God of Israel was greater.
- 6-4 – The ark of the Lord did not belong with the Philistines so God assured that it would be returned by plaguing any Philistine town that had it.
- 19 – Clearly the sins of these men who were struck down were great. The holiness of God and sinfulness of man cannot mix.
- 12-13 – An “Ebenezer” is a sign of remembrance. In the song, “Come Thou Fount”, in one of the later verses it says, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer.” When you want to remember a great thing God has done, it’s important to make a specific note or monument to remember his faithfulness.
- 5-14 – The Feeding of the 5000 is one of very few stories found in all four gospels. Palm Sunday is another.
- 15 – Jesus made many strategic moves to keep the people from forcing him into positions that weren’t God’s will. This is why he often withdraws and regularly told people not to reveal his identity when he performed miracles.
- We read the beginning of this psalm yesterday as it recounted God’s goodness to the Israelites in the wilderness. This second portion focuses on the unfaithfulness of the Israelites in the face of God’s goodness.
- 30 – Certainly a different Phinehas than Eli’s son who was so unfaithful.
- 33 – Someone who is truly wise is not influenced by the foolishness of others around him.
Just like us, the Israelites struggled to retain memories of the good things God had done for them. They needed to be continually reminded of specific instances of God’s faithfulness. In today’s psalm, the psalmist recounts a series of time where God proved himself faithful and that faithfulness in the past gave hope to the original readers and can give hope to us as well. We serve a faithful God.
- 1-2 – The Israelites were commanded to not go through their fields and pick up the leftovers but to leave them for widows and travelers. This is exactly what Ruth is taking advantage of.
- 8-10 – Boaz essentially guarantees Ruth’s safety and provision.
- 6-18 – Though the language is somewhat suggestive that Ruth and Boaz had a sexual encounter, the language is just uncertain enough that you can’t say either way with any confidence. Maybe she did simply sleep at his feet all night after a kind, generous conversation. Either way, it was scandalous in their culture that she stayed the night with a man who was not her husband.
- 1-6 – Women, like land, were considered property. Ruth came along with the land since she had no male relative to marry.
- 7 – The phrase, “now this was custom in former times,” makes it clear that this story was told to people years later when customs had changed.
- 11-12 – Rachel, Ruth and Boaz, Perez, Tamar, and Judah are all part of Jesus’ lineage listed in the first chapter of Matthew.
- 17 – This lineage is listed to show Ruth’s connection to David and eventually to Jesus. It is significant that Ruth was not an Israelite so we know that gentiles were part of Jesus’ background.
- 47-54 – Jesus frequently rewards people who believe without having seen a miracle or been told specifically who he is.
- 54 – Though John’s gospel doesn’t enumerate all of Jesus’ miracles, clearly the writer wanted the readers to recognize that this was Jesus’ second miracle in a particular place.
- “The fear of the Lord” is an interesting concept. Fear can be replaced with the word “awe”. When we stand in awe or reverence of something, we hold great respect for it. This fear or awe should lead us to obedience. Because of that, when we fear the Lord and it leads to obedience, we are fully protected by the Lord and can have confidence in that.
Though, at the end of today’s reading in John, Jesus is referring to himself as the temple, the actual temple really was destroyed, twice, in fact. In 586 B.C. the temple was destroyed when the Babylonians defeated and deported the Israelites. The Israelites then spent decades in exile. It was rebuilt but then destroyed in 70 A.D., after Jesus’ death, by the Romans. It has yet to be rebuilt. Currently a mosque is on that site and all that remains of the temple is the Western Wall also known as “The Wailing Wall”.
- 11-16 – Samson was known for his incredible strength.
- 18-20 – It is a common theme that Biblical characters have some sort of extreme, miraculous experience with God and then panic and cry out to God for something that seems like an easy fix. God always comes through in both the easy and the hard.
- 4-17 – Clearly Samson is smitten by Delilah because she continually betrays him and tries to trap him into being overtaken by the Philistines even though she acts like he is in the wrong for lying to her about his source of strength.
- 25-30 – Samson’s strength is restored and he’s able to use it to take down thousands of Philistines. His death is seen as honorable and as retribution for how the Philistines treated him.
- 1-11 – This is considered Jesus’ first miracle. It seems clear that Jesus does not feel ready to begin his ministry of miracles.
- 13-17 – In Matthew this story occurs in the last week of Jesus’ ministry, but also during Passover. This story is often referenced when confirming that Jesus felt true human emotions.
- 18-23 – The temple was in fact destroyed after Jesus’ death, in 70 AD, but here, Jesus is referring to himself as the temple.
- A beautiful Psalm. One to focus on in a variety of situations, but particularly as a reminder of God’s abundant grace and great love for us.
- 9-10 – Even though Jesus had not come yet, God still offered grace. Though people received some punishments, the punishment for sin is death, so most Israelites were given the opportunity to repent and receive a second chance.
- 11-12 – A beautiful image of how God does not hold our past sins against us.
- 17 – There are several references in the Proverbs that equate quick decisions with foolishness. This would suggest that steadiness and quality of thought is considered more prudent in almost all cases.
Temptations are all around us. They’re so sneaky that at times, we don’t even know we’re being tempted. And though sin can be avoided, temptation cannot always be, but it is incumbent upon those of us who are believers to not create or introduce temptations to others. Instead, it is our job to lead others closer to Christ.
- 14-15 – Note that the Israelites and Joshua did not ask God what they were supposed to do in this situation.
- 19 – This is the reason the gospels say to “let your yes be yes and your no be no” and not to swear by God or anything else. They’ve made a promise with the Hivites that was not sanctioned by God and could cause them to have to disobey God’s instructions later.
- 12-15 – Sometimes it is hard for us to believe in some of the miracles described in the Bible, but we are told that with God all things are possible and we know that he is not constrained by the same things we are.
- 19-31 – We are often consumed with our own comfort on earth, but this story clearly tells us that comfort on earth is fleeting. It is our job to help comfort the afflicted while on earth and then enjoy comfort in heaven.
- 1 – Temptations are inevitable in life, but far be it for us to provide those temptations for others, particularly those who are earlier in their faith journey.
- 3-4 – We are not to judge, but we are to lovingly call people out for their sins. We are also called to forgive as we’ve been forgiven.
Is that a habit? Get it!?! Because she’s wearing a…oh never mind. Jesus had a habit that he was known for. This habit is mentioned frequently throughout the Gospels and it seemed to be a big part of who he was. Jesus went off by himself to pray. When things were getting rowdy or something major had just happened, Jesus didn’t panic, run away, or take charge, he went to pray. What’s your habit?
- 21 – Note that modifications were made for those who were poor, but everyone still had to offer something.
- 34 – Why would God put leprous disease in an Israelites house if it is unclean? Remember, being unclean wasn’t necessarily because you had sinned and it wasn’t sinful to be unclean.
- The priests must have been extremely busy with leprosy cases considering all the checks and double-checks they had to perform.
- 34 – “Sheep without a shepherd” – like any of us before we find Christ.
- 44 – Five thousand men means there were at least as many women and children.
- 46 – Jesus is frequently described as going off by himself to pray. This seems to be how he regroups and reconnects after strenuous teaching or healings.
- 52 – Once again we see someone’s heart hardened. It does not mention who did the hardening this time. When our hearts are hardened we are unable to recognize God’s work.
- This Psalm is helpful when we need restoration.
- Encouragement to share the work God has done in your life, “I have not hidden your deliverance”, “I have spoken of your faithfulness.”
- The difference in result when our words are righteous and when they’re wicked.
Well, actually, today’s Proverb would disagree with this line of thinking. Today’s Proverb instructs us not to share – our spouse that is. Today’s Proverb teaches us not to share spouses. This sounds like a pretty obvious point, but clearly it’s been a problem since at least Solomon’s days – heck, at least Abraham’s. Remember in Genesis when he lied and said Sarah was his sister?
- 1-9 – God performs a few smaller miracles to prove to Moses his power and that he was with him.
- 10-17. Moses continues to balk at the idea of confronting the Pharaoh. God rebuts his excuse of not being eloquent by explaining that God made his mouth and can make it do whatever he wants. Moses continues to make excuses so God allows Aaron, his brother, to accompany Moses.
- 21-23 – These verses are a quick summary of what is about to go down through the plagues, hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, and Passover.
- 24-26 – Though a confusing and disturbing story, it seems that Moses had not fulfilled the Lord’s command that all Israelite males be circumcised. In positions of leadership, we are held to a higher standard of faithfulness and Moses wasn’t meeting the minimum. Zipporah’s quick thinking resolves the issue and ends the conflict.
- 29-31 – Moses and Aaron had to first get the Israelites on board before they confronted the Egyptians.
- 1-21 – Moses and Aaron’s initial presence and request is actually detrimental to the Israelites as Pharaoh, in his anger, makes their work even harder on them.
- 1-6 – Jesus, once again, flips culture on its head. It is not a great ruler or the most faithful disciple who Jesus calls the greatest. It is a weak, vulnerable child. Jesus explains that causing a child to sin is an error deserving death. We must responsibly care for those with whom we’ve been entrusted.
- 7-9 – Temptations are unavoidable because there is evil in the world. This makes it clear how detestable it is to tempt someone else and possibly cause them to sin. And it explains the lengths to which we should go, though somewhat hyperbolic, if something causes us to sin.
- 10-14 – This is similar to the parable of the Prodigal Son. When a sinner returns it should be the case that both God and the righteous rejoice. Instead, we often wonder why we, the faithful, don’t get more celebration. This reminds us that we’re all sinners.
- 15-17 – This is the proper way to call out a believer for sins. All should be done in love.
- 21-22 – Peter comes to Jesus looking for a limit. Jesus explains that grace should be limitless.
- This portion of the psalm shows how our lives should work: God gives us a variety of blessings and we praise him. David is a great example to us of how to be faithful in praise as we receive God’s continual blessings.
- Key point – be faithful to your spouse and what you’ve been given. It sounds like it’s teaching people not to share, but this is one area where that’s legitimate advice.