We are often like little kids who get told ‘no’. Like us, they are appalled that someone would correct them from doing what they want to do. Today’s psalm reminds us that God’s commands are blessings to us and help keep us safe and blessed. Instead of seeing them as cramping our style, we should see them as gifts to make our lives the best they can possibly be.
- 9-14 – Though the Levites responsibilities for the temple were not completely revoked, they were punished for leading others to worship foreign gods and idols.
- 28-31 – God assured that the Levite priests were well taken care of so they didn’t need to acquire wealth anyway other than how God provided for them.
1 Peter 1:1-12:
- 1-2 – This letter was written by Peter or by someone whose faith originated from Peter’s ministry. People often attributed their works to their teachers or leaders.
- 6-9 – We can rejoice even when we face trials because our salvation means we have ultimate hope.
- 18-24 – When do we ever beg for God’s rules and commandments? We forget that they are blessings to us and are meant for our good.
- 10 – Throughout Scripture we are warned against leading others into sin.
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.
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.
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.
Think of this as the greatest sequel ever. It is the story of Jesus continued, but through the Holy Spirit. And unlike most sequels, the new character they introduce is just incredible. Though all hope was lost at the crucifixion, Acts proves that Jesus was nowhere near finished.
It is easy to get caught up in what is and isn’t fair in the Bible. Often times we discount the things that aren’t fair and even sometimes wonder if the unfairness of it somehow makes God not good. For instance, in today’s 2 Samuel reading, David shuns some of his concubines that his son slept with. In other words, the concubines are punished for someone else’s poor behavior. It’s not fair. In these situations we have to remember that we’re reading about the actions of sinful people, not God. It’s also important not to place our own cultural understandings on this very different culture.
2 Samuel 19:11-20:13:
- 11-15 – David is letting the Israelites who deserted him and followed Absalom know that he will accept them back.
- 13 – Amasa was Absalom’s military leader. David ousts Joab after he kills Absalom.
- 18-23 – Shimei was the man David encountered while fleeing Jerusalem who shouted and cursed at David.
- 24-30 – During David’s escape Ziba accused Mephibosheth of supporting Absalom so David gave Ziba all their land. Now he is somewhat reconciling.
- 41-43 – As the Israelites welcome back David as king, they begin to fight over who should get to welcome him first.
- 3 – These are the women Absalom had sex with while David was away. Though it wasn’t their choice, David still shuns them as partners, but continues to provide for them.
- 7 – Peter and the unnamed disciple are mentioned together again. Once again, the unnamed disciple makes the discovery and Peter takes extreme action to get to Jesus.
- 15-19 – Some say that Jesus asked Peter if he loved him three times as a sign that he forgave him for the three times he denied Christ during his trial.
- 25 – Sure makes you wonder what else he did.
- Our attempts at peace are not always received, but we should continue to try.
- It is rare that we put much of anything above the pursuit of wealth, but this proverb confirms that wisdom and understanding are far more valuable.
Today is the last day of the marathon psalm, Psalm 119! But isn’t it a great one!?! It becomes so obvious the deep and abiding love the psalmist has for Scripture. It is a lamp to his feet and a light to his path. Throughout the psalm, the writer makes it clear that he believes the law of God’s word is perfect and can guide us to live in a righteous manner. What would it look like if our love of Scripture was this deep?
2 Samuel 18:1-19:10:
- 33 – David is deeply grieved at the loss of his son. Just like with Saul, he is able to forgive Absalom for wanting to kill him.
- 1-8 – Joab is angry with David and explains to him that it won’t sit well with his followers that he is more saddened by Absalom’s death than happy for their hard work in victory.
- 4 – Like at Jesus’ trial, this disciple other than Peter is unnamed, but present.
- 6-7 – An interesting note on Jesus’ burial cloths being left behind in the tomb is that when Lazarus was raised from the dead, he came out of the tomb still wrapped in burial cloths. Whether significant or not, it’s an interesting contrast.
- 14 – No one who encounters Jesus after his resurrection recognizes him immediately.
- 24-29 – We, like Thomas, often need proof in order to have faith. Jesus reminds Thomas that those who believe without seeing are blessed.
- 30-31 – It’s powerful to think that the gospels were written so people like you and me would believe in Jesus.
- Psalm 119 is, by far, the longest psalm in Scripture. Over and over again, in a variety of ways, the psalmist explains his deep love and commitment to Scripture. This truly must have been a great, devoted love.
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.
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.