The theme of several of the readings today seem to put us in our place. We are human and finite. God is big, powerful, and ultimately in control. And while this could be read as limiting or squashing us, like it did for David, it should give us hope. The ultimate outcome is not in our hands. We don’t have that kind of pressure. But we serve the God who is in control and who has our best in his plans and has the power to bring those plans to fruition. God in control is a good thing.
- 12:1-13:19 – Job contends that he has become a laughing stock and recognizes the power of God.
- 13:20-14:22 – Job switches into a prayer to God. He is clearly incredibly discouraged. He even asks, in verse 14:13, for God to let him die for a while until God’s wrath subsides so he can then come back and serve God with joy. Job makes a valiant effort at remaining faithful.
- 15:1-35 – Eliphaz speaks to Job again, now with more force. Eliphaz begins to accuse Job of thinking of himself more highly than he ought.
1 Corinthians 15:29-58:
- 29 – Though it’s uncertain what this means exactly, it’s presumed that the Corinthians had started the practice of being baptized on behalf of people who didn’t come to faith before they died.
- 29-34 – This argument against those who say there is no resurrection from the dead for people continues from yesterday’s reading.
- 45 – Paul, once again, compares Adam and Jesus. They are considered the first man and the last man. One brought death, the other brought life.
- 55 – This verse is quoted in the Charles Wesley hymn, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”.
- Jeduthun, who this psalm is written to, was a Levite appointed to be one of the masters of music by King David.
- 4-7 – Though David’s words seem somewhat hopeless, talking about how minor our lives are, he continues to put his hope in the Lord.
- Powerful and reassuring words that we can work and strive, and it’s good for us to do our part, but ultimately, the Lord determines and owns victory.
There are double-standards in the world. Some are frustrating and unfair, while others are totally necessary. In today’s 1 Corinthians reading there is a justified double-standard. It is that believers are held to one moral standard while non-believers are not. We cannot expect non-believers to abide by God’s commands, but we as believers should and should even help one another do so. Yes, it’s a double-standard, but it is a necessary one for believers and non-believers alike.
- 21-23 – Ezra told the Babylonians God would take care of them on their journey, so now he had to put his money where his mouth is. This is why he has the people all call on the Lord through fasting and prayer.
- 31 – God hears their prayers for protection on their journey and answers them.
- 1-2 – The Israelites, and particularly the priests, had just finished traveling safely, because of God’s provisions, and have just completed their burnt offering, and immediately they’re breaking one of the main laws God has given them – to be set apart.
- 6-15 – Ezra’s prayer is honest and forthcoming. He confesses God’s goodness to his people and that they continue to sin against him. Particularly starting in vs. 13, Ezra seems to be very humbled by God’s graciousness in continuing to care for them despite their continued lack of faithfulness.
1 Corinthians 5:1-13:
- 9-11 – This is an interesting perspective. This is encouraging us not to try to avoid all sinners or even those who are still caught up in sin, but to avoid those who call themselves believers and are currently engaging in any of the sins listed. As believers we are called to a higher standard.
- 12-13 – Our moral law and faithfulness to Christ is not to be expected of those who do not believe, but we are to hold our own to Christ’s standards.
- 5 – Jesus repeats the first part of this verse when dying on the cross.
- 6-8 – David continually gives acknowledgment and praise to God for providing protection from his enemies.
Have you ever wanted to pray for someone but not known how? It’s easy for that to happen. Often we know someone is struggling but don’t know how. Other times people just pop into our brains and we feel the urge to pray for them. If this happens to you, pray 1 Corinthians 1:4-8 over them. It’s a pretty great prayer for anyone.
2 Chronicles 35:1-36:23:
- 1-19 – There had been significant periods of time, while under bad kings, that the Israelites did not observe Passover. This may seem like tedious information, but it’s showing that the Israelites were doing their best to be faithful here.
- 20-22 – Josiah was faithful for most of his life, but in the end, he tried to oppose the will of God and died trying.
- 9 – Jehoiachin is different than Jehoiakim. It’s easy to read quickly and miss that subtle transition.
- 15 – These “messengers” were the prophets. In the gospels, particularly in parables, there are often people who are trying to bring messages who are ignored or rejected. These characters represent the prophets as well.
- 22-23 – King Cyrus, a king who is not an Israelite, is called to return the exiles to their land and rebuild the temple.
1 Corinthians 1:1-17:
- This is Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Note that letters to different churches tend to have different emphases. He is trying to teach the churches how to live and grow faithfully. Every church has its own hangups in that regard.
- 4-8 – This is a beautiful way to pray for someone you love and want to encourage.
- 10-17 – Paul encourages the Corinthians to stop focusing on divisive issues and to recognize that they are all called to and saved by Christ.
- 1 – Remember this when you have fear of any kind.
- 2-6 – David speaks with words of great confidence that God will protect him in any and every situation.
- God clearly meant the “honor your father and mother” law.
Today we finish up Romans and you’ll notice Paul ends by trying to connect believers together. In most of his letter conclusions he attempts to connect the churches with other believers he’s worked with. We should take a note here. It’s important, as believers, to be connected with other believers.
2 Chronicles 33:14-34:33:
- 1- Strangely, Josiah is not the youngest king to ever start his reign. Joash started ruling at age 7.
- 8-13 – Unfaithful kings tended to let the temple fall into disrepair. Both boy kings took the offerings of the people to put it to temple reparations.
- 27-28 – Even though the people had been evil, the king still had love for them and would have been pained to see them suffer.
- 8-16 – In Paul’s conclusion to the Romans, he is doing his best to connect the believers with others they might encounter.
- 17-19 – Satan does not like it when people are faithful and make faithful decisions. He tries to deceive and turn them with things and people who seem holy-ish.
- 2 – This is a pretty scary prayer to pray. This is inviting God to look into all the part of us we normally try to hide.
- Often the person who tells you great gossip will tell yours as well. Better not to associate with them at all.
God does not give us everything we want. That is not said anywhere in the Bible. It does say that God gives us good gifts. It does say that we need to ask and seek God. It does say that he has great plans for us. Today’s Romans reading has a verse that is often misconstrued as, “God will give you anything you ask for.” Be sure to read the whole verse…and the ones surrounding it for that matter.
2 Chronicles 11:1-13:22:
- 1-12 – Like we learned in 2 Kings, Rehoboam, Solomon’s son split off and took only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. This is the portion of Israel that the line of David still possessed.
- 1-5 – Once Rehoboam allowed the Lord to bless and establish him, he abandoned God and his law. Though this sometimes works for a while, ultimately it leads to failure. God made it clear that Rehoboam would fall to Shishak as punishment.
- 4-12 – Abijah, the new king of Judah, from the line of David, is at war with Jeroboam. At this time, Abijah makes it clear that he and the people of Judah are actually following God’s commands while the people still known as Israel are not.
- 24-25 – If we can already see the fruition or completion of something, we do not have to hope it will happen. We already know it will. We can only have hope when we can’t see the end result.
- 26-27 – This is encouragement for us when we say we don’t know how or what to pray. We can trust that the Spirit will give us the words to pray.
- 28 – This is a verse that gets misquoted and misinterpreted often. Note that there are some important caveats. The person has to love the Lord and they have to be called according to his purpose. We cannot simply decide we want something to happen and God grants it. He is not a genie. We have to be working for his purpose out of our love for him. In those cases, God works all things together for good.
- 29-30 – The word “predestined” tends to trip people up. This passage is explaining that God, in his sovereignty, knows us before we can know him and he calls us to become more like his son who is the ultimate model for us.
- 31 – Something to remember when it seems like evil is winning.
- 35-39 – Powerful encouragement that nothing is stronger than the grip with which God holds onto us. He will not allow anything to separate us.
- This is still the Psalm where David is released from his enemies and the pursuit of Saul.
- David continues to give God praise for rescuing him and allowing him to overcome his enemies. This is an excellent Psalm for those who feel that evil is winning in some part of their lives.
- Sometimes circumstances allow or force us to discontinue faithfully listening to wise counsel. Just look at Rehoboam’s story from yesterday’s reading. He ceased to hear instruction to be kind to his constituents.
Sin and temptation are tough. There are so many that are flashy and draw us in. They promise to satisfy but leave us feeling empty. At the same time, as believers, we desire to follow God and obey his commands. We know his ways are better than the alternative, but those flashing lights are awfully enticing. It can feel like we’re in a bit of a tug-of-war. Paul felt the same way.
2 Chronicles 6:12-8:10:
- 18-21 – Solomon’s humility and awe of God’s willingness to dwell among people is eye opening. It truly is incredible that God has offered to dwell in this house made by humans among them.
- 22-42 – Solomon pleas with God to hear his people’s various prayers. This seems to be a type of dedicating prayer for the temple.
- 32-33 – These verses aren’t familiar to our cultural point of view. We have always been taught to welcome the outsider into church because we want more people to know Jesus. God’s people, the Israelites, had a much more exclusive mind set. The temple was built by them for them to connect with and worship their God.
- 11-22 – God confirms his pleasure in the temple and Solomon’s having built it. He assures Solomon of his loyalty to him, but also explains the consequences if Solomon is not faithful.
- 8-9 – This is an interesting delineation. Solomon is ok with having slaves from other people groups but refuses to have Israelite slaves. They, instead, become soldiers.
- 14-20 – An extremely convicting passage that could have been written by any one of us. We don’t want to sin, but that is our nature because we are human. Our flesh is weak and easily swayed.
- 21-25 – Most of us can probably relate to this kind of turmoil. We love God and want to serve him but also want to sin and are drawn to it.
- 1-8 – When people talk about their pasts being too much to overcome or wondering if the church will get struck by lightning if they walk in, you can point them to these verses. Salvation through Jesus is about life, not condemnation.
- David must have felt such relief. He had run from Saul so long and was constantly at war. You can almost hear the deep exhale in his words.
- David’s words explain the great power with which God works.
- 24 – This verse is basically repeated in Proverbs 26:15. Clearly Solomon was not pleased with laziness and did not believe it displayed godliness or wisdom.
True confessions: I kind of picture everyone in the Bible as being basically the same person. When I picture biblical scenes in my head the people look like the oil painting of Abraham and Sarah from my childhood Sunday School classroom. But the truth is, not only were there all types of people, there were complex structures and deep dividing lines between various people groups. For instance, in our story in Acts, the Romans didn’t have to obey the Jewish authorities and weren’t technically under their law. There was quite a power struggle between the two parties. Knowing the complexities behind the story make the stories themselves so much more powerful.
1 Chronicles 4:5-5:17:
- 9-10 – This story seems out of place in a long list of genealogy, but it was common to place some small, historical story in these lists. It may have been to add legitimacy and context to the list.
- 39-43 – This is one of the many examples of the hostility between the Israelites and Amalekites.
- 1 – Reuben slept with his father Jacob’s concubine.
- 7-12 – Like with Jesus, the Romans technically did not have to answer to Jewish law, but the Jewish leaders put a great deal of pressure on them to convict people for breaking their laws.
- 22 – Agrippa was actually King Herod Agrippa, the last of the Herods.
- David asks God to hear his prayers and then becomes extremely raw about how he wants the Lord to punish a variety of his enemies. We truly can take anything to the Lord in prayer.
There are two Sauls in Scripture. The first was the first king in Israel. The second is better known as Paul, which he was called after his conversion. The second Saul was a persecutor of Christians, a devout and learned Jew, and was at least partially responsible for having the first Christian martyr killed. Soon we’ll read about his commitment to and leadership in spreading the gospel. Isn’t it incredible how God can redeem anyone?
1 Kings 8:1-66:
- 1-11 – The temple is finally built and the priests move the Ark of the Covenant into the Holy Place of the temple, representing God’s presence. This must have been such a exciting, emotional time for all the Israelites.
- 20-21 – The Israelites were promised particular land when they left Egypt. Since then, they had wandered for years, and then fought over the land and other things for years. Now they were finally at peace and where they belonged. This ceremony solidified God’s promises being fulfilled.
- 25 – Clearly David sinned, so God was obviously not setting the bar at perfection. He was simply asking kings to follow him. Many chose not to.
- 27-53 – A beautiful prayer from Solomon asking God for favor, mercy, forgiveness, and protection. He clearly loves God and loves his people.
- 57-58 – God does not force us to choose or follow him. When we allow it, he can draw us to him or incline our hearts toward him, which makes it easier to follow him.
- 51-53 – Stephen is addressing a Jewish audience, which is why he speaks of their fathers not listening to the prophets. Saying they have uncircumcised hearts and ears would directly accuse them of not being God’s people. Circumcision was part of their culture and identity as Jews.
- 58 – This is the same Saul who becomes Paul. The Jews laying their garments at Saul’s feet shows that he was heavily involved in Stephen’s death.
- 60 – Stephen was the first martyr for Christ.
- 1 – The early Christians were scattered around 70 A.D. when the temple was destroyed.
- 3 – Saul was a terrifying persecutor of Christians. He was a devout Jew.
- This psalm denounces anyone who is against Israel and specifically Jerusalem.
- Though many of us seek wealth for our families, peace is a far greater blessing.
Amnon commits an egregious sin against his half-sister and though David is hurt and angered by Amnon’s actions, he doesn’t punish him. The most likely cause? Because David had sexual sin in his past as well and felt as if he couldn’t judge Amnon. Do you see how our sins affect us far beyond the initial act? And they don’t just affect us, but many around us as well. Though are sins are forgiven, consequences are real.
2 Samuel 13:1-39:
- 2 – Amnon and Tamar were half brother and sister. They shared David as their father.
- 3-14 – Jonadab’s plan is successful and Amnon rapes Tamar. In verse 13, Tamar even pleads with Amnon to ask David if they can marry one another so this won’t be a violation. Amnon still overpowers her.
- 15 – Not only does he violate her, but then he kicks her out of bed and hates her fiercely. Amnon’s sexual sin begins to cause a downward spiral of destruction.
- 20 – Once a woman was no longer a virgin, whether by choice or not, she was cast aside. Absalom’s kindness towards Tamar was far better treatment than most women received.
- 21 – David is angry but does nothing to Amnon. He may have felt unworthy to judge or enact justice upon Amnon because he had committed his own sexual sin.
- 26-33 – Absalom takes matters into his own hands and kills Amnon. Though Amnon’s sin was egregious, Absalom’s actions are also sinful.
- 6-20 – Jesus’ final prayer for his followers.
- 20-26 – Now Jesus prays for all those who will come to believe as the disciples continue to share the gospel after Jesus’ death. Isn’t it cool to know that Jesus prayed for us?
- 81-88 – The first section is crying out to God for help because the psalmist is being persecuted by those who don’t follow God’s commands.
- 89-96 – The psalmist has a deep reliance on God’s word and laws. The psalmist also seems to remind God of his own faithfulness while asking God to return the favor.
- 6 – We often wonder how we can quit a certain sin or be more faithful. This proverb gives good insight – fear the Lord and you can turn away from evil.
Some of the stories in this week’s reading from 2 Samuel can be a little confusing. There are a lot of names and many of them are somewhat similar. To help the story move along so you can understand the meaning a little bit better, here’s a bit of a cheat sheet:
- Abiathar – high priest and the last of Eli’s line
- Abishai – one of David’s most fearsome warriors
- Absalom – David’s son
- Ahithophel – a well respected, though not particularly loyal, counselor to David and others
- Amnon – David’s first son, Tamar’s half-brother
- Hushai – one of David’s workers pretending to work for Absalom
- Ittai – a leader of the Gittite people; fairly inconsequential over all
- Joab – an official close to David; he is hasty and violent
- Jonadab – Amnon’s friend and advisor, a sneaky guy; David’s nephew
- Mephibosheth – Saul’s grandson
- Shimei – a member of Saul’s house who originally curses David but eventually returns to him
- Tamar – David’s daughter; Amnon’s half-sister
- Zadok – a priest who assisted David in Absalom’s revolt
- Ziba – originally a servant of Mephibosheth but moves to David’s side and is handsomely rewarded
As we closeout John and begin Acts, note the differences of what John includes. For instance, John includes Jesus’ powerful prayers for his disciples and even future believers. Pilate’s character has a different feel in John’s account. He seems much more pained and tormented to convict Jesus. And an additional disciple attends the trial with Peter unlike in any other gospel. What do you think John is trying to emphasize with the way he shares his account?
This week we’ll also finish Psalm 119! Be sure to note the Amy Grant reference – and don’t by shy. Go ahead and jam out to her tunes.
Happy reading! 5 months in the books! Incredible!!