Why is God so mean?! Well…is he actually mean? Or does he simply expect us to follow his commands? A story in today’s 2 Samuel reading where Uzzah touches the ark to steady it from falling is a tough one to swallow. However, Uzzah knew the rules and chose not to follow them. Does that make God mean? Or Uzzah disobedient?
2 Samuel 4:1-6:23:
- 2 – Benjamin keeps getting mentioned because that was the tribe Saul came from.
- 5-12 – David’s wish was not to blot out all of Saul’s family from the earth. Others were simply misguided in thinking this. David had great honor for Saul and was best friends and had made a covenant of friendship and family loyalty with Jonathan.
- 3-5 – Due to Abner’s efforts when he was on Team Saul, David did not start ruling over all of Israel until after he ruled in Judah for 7 years.
- 6-10 – The Jebusites were so confident in their fortress’ strength that they taunted David’s army saying even the blind and lame could ward off attacks on the city. David ends up successfully taking the city.
- 11-12 – David recognized where his power and blessings derived. This caused him to seek God’s guidance and follow his commands.
- 1-4 – The ark of God (also known as the ark of the covenant) had been captured by the Philistines in a previous battle. David’s ability to return it to its rightful owners, the Israelites, was a huge accomplishment.
- 6-7 – Though Uzzah was simply trying to steady the ark, it was well known that the penalty, even for Levites, for touching the ark, was death. Uzzah could have avoided this by carrying the ark on his shoulder with the rest of the Levites like he was supposed to and/or knowing the law of the ark better.
- 14-15 – David’s attire is mentioned because his wild dancing most likely meant that he unintentionally exposed himself while dancing. He worshipped with such passion that he didn’t care about the consequences. Here’s an oldie but a goody based on this passage.
- 34-35 – Often people don’t recognize our faith. The main culprit is that we do not love one another.
- 36-38 – Peter truly believes in his commitment to following Christ, but Jesus already knows Peter’s limits.
- 6-7 – Another “I am” statement declaring that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Because they know and believe in Jesus, they also know the father.
- 10-11 – This is clear proof of God as Trinity. The father and son are inseparable in substance and are fully connected. Knowing the Son means knowing the Father as well.
- 13-14 – This passage begs the question, “well, what about when our prayers aren’t answered.” Many would argue that the prayer wasn’t in alignment with God’s will and this may be true. The great comfort in all this is that all earnest prayers come to fruition in eternity where there is no suffering or pain or hardship.
- 25-32 – This is a perfect prayer for us as we attempt to read and understand God’s word. If our true prayer is to gain insight and to be strengthened by God’s word, he will surely give us these things.
- We often know the wise choice, whether it’s been told to us or it’s just obvious. It’s our choice to follow wisdom or choose another way.
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.
Dr. Seuss is often credited with the quotation, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Though not the same words, Proverbs had a similar sentiment long before Seuss. Today’s Proverb reminds us not to give any merit to those who scoff at our attempts to be faithful.
- 22-23 – God had purposefully not given the Israelites a ruler or king. God was their king. Gideon and the other judges were intended to act as guides, but not rulers.
- 29 – Remember, Jerubbaal was Gideon’s other name.
- 6 – Clearly Abimelech wasn’t intended to be king, but the people wanted one and appointed him king anyway.
- 46 – The temple curtain was designed to separate the holiness of God from the sin of the people. Jesus’ death both symbolically and literally removed this barrier.
- 50-51 – The council had approved Jesus’ death, but Joseph of Arimathea dissented.
- 1-11 – It is significant that it was women who first witnessed Jesus’ resurrection because the testimony of women did not count.
- 12 – Once again, it is Peter who is first to seek out Christ.
- 6 – Moses, Aaron, and Samuel were all Jewish heroes of the faith. The fact that they worshipped and were avenged by God gave even more clout to God.
- Foolish people mock us when we choose to do what is right and choose to obey God and repent. We should give their mocks no merit.
Today, in our reading from Luke, we encounter Herod…but in fact, it’s just one of several Herods involved in Jesus’ life at various times. Check out this resource, which will shed a little more light into the Herods.
- 8-10 – God reminds them of the good things he’s done for them and that they still disobeyed him. The Israelites seem to have a short memory when it comes to who is worthy of their worship.
- 13-14 – Gideon was young enough that he had not seen God’s power and miracles. Because of the Israelites’ unfaithfulness he had only seen Israel forsaken by God. He, understandably, struggled to trust that God could overtake the Midianites who oppressed them at the time.
- 24 – Many times in Scripture, when someone would experience God’s power or goodness, they would name that space after what they had experienced. Gideon names this “The Lord is Peace” or “Jehovah Shalom”.
- 28-31 – Gideon’s dad Joash makes a great argument. If Jerubbaal is truly a god, he shouldn’t need you to defend him. Certainly, this argument saved his son’s life.
- 36-40 – This may sound like Gideon was testing God, which we are not supposed to do. Gideon asks humbly for God to confirm that his plan is to save Israel through Gideon.
- 54-62 – Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him three times and though Peter was certain he wouldn’t, he did. Though Peter gets a bad wrap for this, note that he was the only disciple who followed Jesus to his trial.
- 66-71 – The church leaders were doing all they could to assure Jesus could be charged with blasphemy. Though he never called himself the Son of God in this passage, he says enough for them to jump on.
- 1 – Pilate was a low-level Roman leader. He was basically like the mayor of Longview, TX.
- 7 – This is not the same Herod that wanted to kill him when he was born.
- 6 – If you can’t think of a reason to praise God, simply praise him for creating you.
- 8 – The Israelites’ sins at Meribah and Massah both happened as they wandered in the desert. Most of the Israelites’ history and testaments tended to refer back to their 40 years of wandering.
- 10-11 – The Israelites sinned while in the desert causing them not to enter the Promised Land until later generations could enter instead.
Covenants are a big deal throughout Scripture. They are promises made between God and the people where both sides have a part to play. Today, we read about the covenant God makes with humanity through Christ and his blood. We are a part of that covenant. Our part is to accept the free gift of grace offered to us and God’s part is to offer us salvation.
- 10 – It was the job of the older generations to teach the younger generations the goodness of God. There are several times in Scripture where monuments are built or parents are instructed to teach their children the Scriptures. Clearly this generation had failed to do so.
- 11-16 – God instructed the Israelite to drive everyone out of the Promised Land when they moved in because intermixing would tempt them to worship other gods. The Israelites did not completely obey and God was right.
- 18-19 – The Israelites didn’t have any sort of all-encompassing leader or king. Instead, God raised up judges to try to help guide them.
- 7-11 – Sometimes we struggle to understand why God would allow bad things to happen to the Israelites, but this makes it clear the Israelites served another king for 8 years and worshipped his gods. But when the Israelites cried out to God, he raised up a leader and returned to them.
- 15-30 – An interesting story where it’s hard not to get distracted by the details. A couple of key points: 1) Ehud being left-handed allowed him to conceal his sword. Guards would have checked the left thigh for weapons. 2) When Israelites worshipped and honored God, he protected them and gave others over into their hands.
- 20 – There were several covenants between God and the Israelites in the Old Testament. This is the first found in the New Testament and is through the blood of Christ and is offered to everyone, not just the Israelites.
- 28-30 – For the first time Jesus offers his disciples a position in eternity.
- 31-34 – Peter is the most zealous disciple. He is committed to following Jesus anywhere, but Jesus knows that he even he has limits and weaknesses and he too will deny Jesus.
- 1-3 – It is crucial for us to give God thanks and praise for all the good things he has done and for how good he is. He deserves it and it reminds us of where our blessings derive.
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.
Verse 5 of today’s Psalm is powerful. “There they are, in great terror where there is no terror!” We fear so many things that have absolutely no power over us. We fear that people will not accept us, or that our children will not get into the right kindergarten, or that we won’t be able to maintain the standard of living we hope for. We create terror where there is no terror. God is good and is in control. Fear not.
- 1-4 – When things get scary, we often revert to whatever was comfortable even if it was bad for us. For the Israelites it was Egypt.
- 18 – As Moses appeals to the Lord to forgive the Israelites for their continued unfaithfulness, he uses a phrase that people will repeat throughout the Bible, “the Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…”.
- The Israelites’ unfaithfulness results in them not getting to enter the Promised Land. Caleb and Joshua get to and later generations get to, but those who have continually been unfaithful despite God’s provision, are punished.
- 61-63 – This is the first time Jesus openly calls himself the Son of God. He normally followed people’s questions about his identity with a question. The chief priests believed this gave them grounds to charge him with blasphemy.
- 66-72 – Peter was convinced he would never deny Jesus. His denial and the fulfillment of what Jesus said gives Peter great grief.
- We allow ourselves to fear so much in the world that truly can’t harm us. God is in control and takes care of us.
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.
Genesis 50:1-Exodus 2:10:
- 15-21 – Our sinfulness has long-lasting consequences. We often face them long after the actual situation is over. Joseph’s brothers still have guilt and shame on them and assume their brother will now pay back evil for evil. Instead, Joseph recognizes his place in the situation and recognizes that God redeemed to good what his brother meant for evil.
- 26 – Unlike his father, Joseph had made Egypt his home and was fine with being buried there.
- 7-14 – With a new king and the death of Joseph, the Egyptians quickly forget the good Joseph did for them. As the Israelites grow in size and strength while they live in Egypt, the Egyptians grow fearful of them and eventually enslave them to keep them under control.
- 15-16 – Pharaoh is trying to control the Israelite population and their ability to join enemies in war.
- 17-21 – Sometimes faithfulness seems impossible. The midwives chose faithfulness even though it was in direct disobedience to the king.
- 1-10 – Moses’ mother finds a way to give him a chance at life. Moses’ sister’s quick thinking allows his mother to nurse and care for him.
- 13-20 – Peter is the first of the disciples to identify Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus blesses him because this was clearly revealed to Peter by the Father. Peter becomes the rock of the church and is given great authority going forward.
- 21-23 – This is a quick transition between Peter being told he would lead the church to being called Satan. In this section, Peter puts his own plans for Jesus ahead of God’s.
- 24-25 – Note that no one knew Jesus would take up an actual cross at his death. He is calling them to be willing to make the same kind of sacrifice he will soon make.
- 28 – Though somewhat confusing, this is not intended to mean that some of the people standing there would still be alive when Jesus returned a second time. Though there are many interpretations, one feasible one is that Jesus is saying that some people would live to see Christ reign in the world. Many were alive as Pentecost and then the spread of the church began. Some even led it.
- 5 – This is the same phrase recorded from Jesus’ baptism.
- Note that many psalms filled with violence and seeking revenge still end with praise and exultation of God. Clearly praise was a fallback whether times were good or bad.
- This section gives a great description of just how seductive temptation can be. We would much more easily avoid temptation if it wasn’t attractive and sneaky. Before we know it, we have followed temptation into destruction.